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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Cappeliez leaves Wake Forest progam, heads home to France

   When you have a pretty strong returning core and you’re adding two of the four semifinalists from the 2015 U.S. Women’s Amateur at Portland Golf Club, you’ve got to be thinking you’ve got the makings of something special.
   Would you blame Wake Forest head coach Dianne Dailey, a former LPGA player, if she didn’t have visions of being one of the eight teams left standing for match play at the NCAA Championships this spring?
   Well, if it happens now, it will be because the Demon Deacons, No. 13 in the latest Golfstat rankings, overcame a ton of adversity.
   Let’s start with the latest headline. Golfweek reported last week that Mathilda Cappeliez, who followed up her semifinal showing at Portland Golf Club with another run to the semifinals at last summer’s U.S. Women’s Amateur at Rolling Green Golf Club, is leaving Wake Forest and returning home to France.
   Cappeliez informed Dailey of her decision to leave Wake Forest following the Demon Deacons’ eighth-place finish at the Darius Rucker Intercollegiate earlier this month at Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Wake Forest actually had a nice bounce-back in the final round at the Darius Rucker after losing Antonia Eberhard, a sophomore from Germany, in the middle of the second round when a nagging chest muscle issue flared up.
   Senior stalwart Sierra Sims of Austin, Texas had a 72, junior Erica Herr, the two-time PIAA champion from Council Rock North, had a 71, Jennifer Kupcho, a sophomore from Littleton, Colo. and one of the leading freshmen in the country a year ago, had a 72 and Cappeliez, who had opened with rounds of 82 and 80, added a respectable 76 to help Wake post a 3-over 291.
   The Golfweek report also noted that Kupcho was getting back in action after suffering a concussion from a fall off a golf cart at last month’s Northrop Gruman Regional Challenge at Palos Verdes Estates, Calif.
   In one of my posts on the Darius Rucker, I noted the absence from the Wake Forest lineup of the other semifinalist from the 2015 U.S. Women’s Amateur, Sierra Brooks, a freshman from Sorrento, Fla. The Golfweek report informed that Brooks had surgery for a tear in her wrist in December and that her recovery had been slowed by a fall during a workout. She is hopeful of a return before the spring portion of the campaign is over.
   Brooks lost in the final at Portland Golf Club to Hannah O’Sullivan. She had a busy spring in 2016 that included teaming up with 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Kristen Gillman at the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship at the Streamsong Resort’s Blue Course in Florida and a trip to Ireland where she represented the United States in a Curtis Cup loss to a formidable Great Britain & Ireland side.
   We weren’t seeing her best stuff when she showed up at Rolling Green last summer and shot rounds of 75 and 77 on the William Flynn gem and failed to make the match-play bracket.
   As for Cappeliez, it doesn’t always work when European women come to the U.S. Dailey said Cappeliez’s plan was to play two years of college golf and then turn pro. Cappeliez will remain an amateur for the summer and plans to compete in the LPGA Qualifying School with an eye on joining the LPGA Tour.
   If you’re looking for some kind of in-fighting conspiracy theory, forget it. The Golfweek story was accompanied by a tweet from Brooks bidding farewell to Cappeliez that couldn’t be more heartfelt.
   “College golf just wasn’t for her,” Dailey told Golfweek.
   The good news is that Sims, Kupcho and Herr got to leave a parting shot of winter weather behind to tee it up in the Dr. Donnie Thompson Invitational at the Kaneohe Kipper course on the island of Oahu. That’s right, Hawaii. The Dr. Donnie Thompson got under way Tuesday, so I’ll try to check in on the results later this week.
   I am constantly amazed at how many of the names I come across on the college women’s golf scene are on the semifinal program I saved at Rolling Green that recapped the match-play bracket.
   One of those names was one of the mostly highly coveted high school recruits in the country. The matches involving Hailee Cooper of Montgomery, Texas had plenty of college coaches following them with great interest. All the kid who was heading into her junior year of high school did was knock off not one, but two members of the U.S. Curtis Cup team, claiming a 2-up win over University of Georgia sophomore Bailey Tardy and a 1-up win over Mika Liu, who is headed for Stanford later this year.
   Yuka Saso, a pretty precocious 15-year-old herself from the Philippines, ended Cooper’s run in the third round with a 2 and 1 victory.
   While searching around for some college golf news, I discovered a Golfweek article from last month in which Cooper announced her intention to join the University of Texas program in the fall of 2018. She will join her partner from the winning 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship tandem at Streamsong in Kaitlyn Papp.
   Cooper and Papp downed a pair of 13-year-old Californians, Angelina Kim and Brianna Navarrosa, in 19 holes in the Four-Ball final at Streamsong.
   Papp announced last fall that she plans to join the Texas program beginning in the fall of 2017. The Longhorns will also add Agathe Laisne of France this fall.
   Both Papp and Laisne, by the way, are on that program I saved from Rolling Green. Papp made match play and fell to Ohio State senior Jessica Porvasnik in a 20-hole thriller in the first round. Porvasnik then bounced Laisne in the second round, 4 and 2.

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