NORMAN — The first round of match play at the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links produced a stunning upset Wednesday at the Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club.
Ciera Min topped the No. 1 seed, Annie Park, 6-and-4 in the day’s first match. The stir Min’s victory created reverberated throughout the day.
Min, though, took it in stride.
“I knew she was a great player,” said Min. “It’s humbling.”
Min, a 17-year-old from Hawaii, now sits atop the bracket.
Park, who won the NCAA individual title last month for Southern Cal and has already qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open, was considered the favorite coming into the tournament. She was coming off back-to-back rounds of 68 shot Monday and Tuesday. Now she’s heading home early.
“It was a bad day for me,” Park said. “I couldn’t hit it yesterday and I today I finally got my swing back. I just putted like a … tornado.”
Park wasn’t the only big-name player to make an early exit. Lucy Li, 10, entered Wednesday the youngest WAPL match-play qualifier in event history, but she ran into Ember Schuldt Wednesday morning, and Schuldt came away with a 3-and-2 victory.
It took a strong round for Schuldt, who will be a senior at Illinois, to advance. She eagled the par-5 eighth hole to take a 4-hole lead early in the match before withstanding a barrage of three birdies in a four-hole stretch from Li, to close the match out on the 16th hole.
Schuldt knew she had a tough draw when the pairings were announced Tuesday evening.
“I knew she was a great player. Then again, you don’t want to lose because everyone knows that she’s 10.”,” Schuldt said. “She was a great player and I’m happy to have won.”
Li, who lived in Redwood City, Calif., heads home for a little time off after an historic week.
“It was really exciting. I was excited to be here,” Li said.
Doris Chen, Park’s teammate at USC, as well her stroke-play co-medalist, cruised to a 4-and-3 victory over Abbey Carlson.
Defending champion Kyung Kim, who also plays for the Trojans, rolled to a 6-and-5 victory over Monika Poomcharoen.
“I’m starting to read my putts better and I’m starting to make more putts,” said Kim, who was 4 under through 13 holes. “The first two days, I was hitting the edges and nothing was going in. I’m glad I was able to get it together.”
OU’s contingent of three is now two. The Sooners’ Chirapat Jao-Javanil defeated Madison Opfer 1-up. Anne-Catherine Tanguay topped Chonlada Chayanun 2-and-1 to move into the second round.
Taylor Schmidt birdied the 18th hole force a playoff with Grace Na. However, Na returned the favor with a birdie on the first playoff hole to eliminate Schmidt.
Jao-Javanil’s match went the distance and was tight throughout. Neither ever led by more than two holes.
“You just had to make sure you don’t give up,” Jao-Javanil said. “The momentum can swing back your way at any moment. You don’t want to let any shots go.”
Tanguay claimed the momentum in her match with a birdie on the par-5 13th to take a 1-up lead. She never trailed again.
“I played really good the whole time, but the putts weren’t falling in the first half of the match,” Tanguay said. “It could have been better, but it was really close the whole day.”
Moore’s Jade Staggs never led Rika Park by more than two holes in her match. Good for Staggs, her biggest lead came after a birdie on No. 16 to claim a 2-up lead she rode into the clubhouse.
“It went back and forth all day long because neither one of us really got it going. We both kept making little mistakes here or there to keep each other in it,” Staggs said. “It was a grind out there.”
For the winners, the grind continues. The next 16 matches tee off starting at 7:30 this morning.
The 16 winners of the morning matches will play again beginning at 1 p.m. The field, which began at 156 players Monday morning will be down to eight by tonight.
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