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Saturday, July 16, 2016

Gillman, Stasi making noise on their way to Rolling Green

   Kristen Gillman looks like she’s ready to try to add a second U.S. Women’s Amateur title to her resume before she begins her collegiate career at Alabama later this summer.
   Gillman showed her preparations for the U.S. Women’s Amateur that tees off Aug. 1 at Rolling Green Golf Club are right on schedule with a 3 and 2 victory over South Carolina senior Katelyn Dambaugh in the final of the 114th North and South Women’s Championship Friday at Pinehurst No. 2
   Gillman of Austin, Texas won the 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur championship by defeating Canadian Brooke Henderson in the final. You can see Henderson on TV winning major championships on the LPGA Tour these days.
   Gillman proved she can navigate a classic course as she defeated four players in match play after 54 holes of stroke-play qualifying over the 6,332-yad, par-71 Donald Ross masterpiece in Pinehurst, N.C. She should be right at home on the William Flynn gem at Rolling Green.
   In Friday’s final against Dambaugh, the left-hander who was the leading lady for a South Carolina team that was one of the final eight teams who qualified for match play at the NCAA Championship, Gillman was 1-down after seven holes.
   Gillman promptly ripped off four straight wins, taking the eighth and ninth with pars and the 10th and 11th with birdies to take a commanding 3-up lead. She had to wait out a two-and-a-half-hour delay as a thunderstorm moved through, but held off the talented Dambaugh, the runnerup to UCLA’s Emily Law in voting for the Annika Award that goes to the top player in college golf.
   Gillman had rounds of 75, 79 and 72 to finish in a tie for ninth in qualifying at 13-over 226. Purdue senior and Big Ten champion August Kim of St. Augustine, Fla., claimed medalist honors with rounds of 73, 71 and 71 for a 2-over 215 total. Kim is also headed for Rolling Green after taking medalist honors in a U.S. Women’s Amateur qualifier at waterlogged Hawk Pointe Golf Club in Washington, N.J. last month.
   Gillman’s toughest hurdle in match play came in the first round as she pulled out a 1-up decision over University of Florida senior Kelly Grassel of Chesterton, Ind. While that was going on, University of Virginia sophomore Anna Redding of Concord, N.C. was knocking off Kim in a 2 and 1 upset.
   Gillman then cruised to a 7 and 6 win over Redding in the quarterfinals before a 6 and 5 decision over Jennifer Chang of Cary, N.C. in the semifinals sent her to the title match.
   Dambaugh’s road to the final included a 2 and 1 victory over Northwestern senior Kacie Komoto of Honolulu, Hawaii, a 5 and 3 win over Norman, Okla. phenom Yujeung Son and a 1-up decision over Milia Nam of Kalua, Hawaii.
   Penn State sophomore Jackie Rogowicz, the former Pennsbury standout who earned a ticket to Rolling Green at the Hawk Pointe qualifier, teed it up at Pinehurst, but failed to make the cut for match play. She had rounds of 81, 77 and 75 for a 233 total that left her tied for 27th.
   Brynn Walker, who won the last two PIAA Class AAA championships at Radnor, was also at Pinehurst and had rounds of 81, 83 and 81 for a 245 total. Walker will be headed for Chapel Hill, N.C. to begin her collegiate career at North Carolina next month.
   In another note of interest as Rolling Green prepares to host the best women amateur players in the world in two weeks, eight-time Philadelphia Women’s Amateur champion Meghan Stasi earned a spot in the field in a qualifier last week at Lawrence Country Club in Lawrence, Kan.
   Stasi, a South Jersey native, was known as Meghan Bolger when she ripped off seven straight wins in the Women’s Golf Association of Philadelphia Match Play Championship from 1999 to 2005. She came home two years ago to add an eighth title.
   After a standout collegiate career at Tulane, Stasi coached at the University of Mississippi and then married Danny Stasi, founding owner and chef at Shuck N Dive, a popular Cajun restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
   She helps out her husband at the restaurant, but has the flexibility to pursue a high-level amateur career and has won four U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur titles.
   Stasi was far from her Oakland Park, Fla. home in Kansas this week, but her 76 earned her a trip to Rolling Green. She finished second, two shots behind Mexico’s Monica Dibildox, who is preparing to start her collegiate career at LSU next month.

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