NORMAN — By Friday afternoon, the parking lot at Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club was nearly empty. The 156-player field that en-gulfed the course for the 2013 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links five days earlier was down to just two players.
Doris Chen and Lauren Diaz-Yi will have the course all to themselves at 8 a.m. today when they meet in the 36-hole championship match.
Both kept their hopes alive for a United States Golf Association championship by surviving another grueling day Friday.
Chen, the 20-year-old member of USC’s national championship team, continued to be the field’s most resilient player. She advanced with a 19-hole victory over Oklahoma’s Anne-Catherine Tanguay in Friday morning’s quarterfinal round.
It had to feel like a road victory for Chen. There was a sizable gallery of OU fans following along with the group. They didn’t bother Chen.
“The crowds are great,” she said. “They are very polite.”
Chen rallied from one-hole deficit with a birdie on the par-5 18th hole to force a playoff. Chen then sank a 12-foot par putt on No. 1 to advance to semifinals.
Her afternoon match against Julie Yang didn’t have nearly as much drama. Chen rolled to a 5-and-4 victory.
“I got the green speed figured out,” Chen said. “I hit it better and I putted better as well. It was just a little adjustment with my swing, my focus and my putting.”
Yang, who played 39 holes on Thursday, knocked off Karen Chung to reach the semifinals. However, the 18-year-old admitted she didn’t have much gas left in the tank by the semifinal match.
“Physically, I was pretty drained,” Yang said. “Going into the second match, my mind wasn’t tired, but legs were giving away on me. I could feel it … I’ve played a lot of holes in the last two days.”
Diaz-Yi was feeling the same way after her semifinal victory over Raychelle Santos.
“I am just going to rest and just crash,” she said.
Diaz-Yi earned a good night’s sleep. She started the day with a 4-and-3 win over Krystal Quihuis. In the semifinal match, she won six holes in an eight-hole stretch on front nine to take a 5-up lead over Santos at the turn.
From there, she just held on.
“I just wanted to be steady … and not do anything crazy,” Diaz-Yi said. “I had a couple of slips here and there.”
She had the victory hand after the 15th hole in both matches Friday. But Diaz-Yi knows she’ll enter today’s championship match as the underdog.
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Chen, who has already qualified for next week’s Women’s U.S. Open and was co-medalist in the stroke-play portion of the event, is vying for her second USGA title in four years. Chen won the 2010 U.S. Girls’ Junior champion. A win today would make her just the third player to win it and a WAPL title.
“Playing with Doris is going to be a lot of fun,” Diaz-Yi said. “She’s a U.S. Girls’ Junior champion. She knows what it’s like to be there … She’s going to be very competitive and it’s not going to be an easy match … Honestly, what do I have to lose?”