Hailey Borja of Lake Forest and Rachel Heck of Stanford and Memphis, Tenn., will carry California’s hopes into the semifinals of the 123rd United States Women’s Amateur Championship at Bel Air Country Club in Los Angeles.
Heck (pictured) routed Catherine Rao of Camarillo and Princeton, 8 and 6, while Borja defeated Kyra Ly of Portland and Oregon State, 3 and 2.
In the other two quarterfinal matches, Megan Schofill of Monticello, Fla., and Auburn got past Anna Davis, winner of the 2022 Augusta National Women’s Amateur, of Spring Valley and also of Auburn, 2 and 1, and Latanna Stone of Riverview, Fla., and LSU beat Thienna Huynh of Lilburn, Ga., and UNLV, 3 and 2.
In the semifinals, Heck the 2021 NCAA Women’s champion, who has been spending time training to be in the United States Air Force, will take on Stone, while Borja, who plays at Michigan, will meet Schofill.
“Going into the week I had absolutely no idea how it would go,” said the 21-year-old Heck, who won the Gunrock Invitational and the Lampkin Diego Invitational last year. “I didn’t think it would go too great at all considering it’s my first tournament back since October. I’m just grateful to be here. I’m soaking it all in and not putting too much pressure on myself. I felt super relaxed out there today, so I think that mindset has helped a lot.
“I definitely have not had a match that smooth in my seven U.S. Amateurs. I was really proud of how I was able to play super smoothly today. Everything got shaky towards the end of yesterday, I was hitting some loose shots, but I really felt refreshed today and super confident in my game, so it was nice to feel like that.
“It was pretty nerve-wracking, especially on the first hole, but my putting carried me through this week so far. I just hope to keep it going.”
Stone, who won five holes in an eight-hole stretch to take command of her match against 2022 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links champion Huynh, said: “I think my brain is clicking, the motors are running. I just have a different mindset this week. I’m just like, we’re going to have fun. I’ve never even made it this far before. This is my [sixth] Women’s Am. It’s a big accomplishment. I’m just so grateful for it. Not taking any moment for granted. I know I played in some big events, but this is pretty cool.”
Borja was tied in her match against Ly through nine holes, then pushed ahead with winning pars on the 10th and 11th holes. She made a 12-foot par save on the 12th, then poured in a 20-foot birdie putt to extend her lead to 3 up with four to play. She closed out the match with an up-and-down for par on the par-3 16th.
“My putting really saved me today,” said Borja, 21, of Lake Forest, Calif. “With these greens, you have to be really creative, and I think that’s what I’m really good at with my putting. I may not have the best stroke, but I think being creative out here is what’s really important.”
Schofill edged in a battle of two players ranked in the top 25 of the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking in the last match of the day.
Schofill, the world No. 21, birdied the par-5 first hole to take a 1 up lead over No. 5 Davis, then the duo tied the next 13 holes before
After Davis squared the match with a conceded birdie at the par-4 15th hole, Schofill regained the lead on the next hole when Davis made bogey after her tee shot caught the front bunker at the par-3 16th, and Schofill closed out the match with an eight-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole.
“A lot of great golf between the two of us,” the 22-year-old Schofill said. “It was a really tough match when you’re playing against anyone left in the field right now. It feels great to be able to see the hard work and play a really great round of golf and be able to get the job done.”
The semifinals figure to be just as exciting.
For complete results visit: https://championships.usga.org/uswomensamateur/2023/scoring.html