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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Miller, Kan team up to earn spot in match play at U.S. Four-Ball Championship

   The all-star Pennsylvania duo of Katie Miller and Aurora Kan finished in a tie for 15th Sunday in qualifying to earn a spot in match play in the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship at The Dunes Golf & Beach Club in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
   Miller of Jeannette and Kan of Boothwyn added a 1-under-par 71 to their opening-round 69 for a 5-under 139 total. Miller was the PIAA champion at Hempfield Area in 1999, 2000 and 2002, one just two girls to win three state crowns. Kan captured the 2010 PIAA title as a senior at Chichester after finishing second the previous two years.
   Miller, who starred collegiately at North Carolina, and Kan, who had a standout career at Purdue, birdied the seventh and 15th holes before finishing up with a bogey at the 18th on the 6,296-yard, par-72 Robert Trent Jones Sr. layout. That sounds like they couldn’t get many putts to fall, which is just as well. You want to save those putts for match play.
   Miller and Kan will take on the pair of Kathleen Gallagher and Kendall Griffin in the opening round of match play at 10:18 Monday morning. Gallagher of Greenwood, Miss. just completed her sophomore season at LSU. Griffin of Sebring, Fla. will join Gallagher in Baton Rouge in the fall. Griffin was a quarterfinalist at the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship last summer at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, N.J.
   Gallagher and Griffin also finished in the group of four teams tied for 15th at 5-under 139 along with Miller and Kan. Gallagher and Griffin had rounds of 70 and 69.
   Three teams shared medalist honors at 12-under 132, led by the Texas teens who are defending their title at The Dunes, Hailee Cooper and Kaitlyn Papp. Papp will join the Texas golf program this fall and Cooper will follow her to Austin a year later. Cooper and Papp fired a pair of 66s in qualifying.
The Jersey girls on a Furman team that was ranked in the top 10 in the country all spring, Alice Chen, a junior from Princeton, and Taylor Totland, a senior from Tinton Falls, matched Cooper and Papp shot for shot with a pair of 66s.
   Those two teams were joined by a pair of players from a Colorado team that was an NCAA Regional qualifier out of the powerful Pac-12, Brittany Fan, a junior from Pearl City, Hawaii, and Esther Lee, a senior from Los Alamitos, Calif. Fan and Lee fired a sparkling 8-under 64 to get a share of medalist honors at 12-under 132.
   Newly crowned NCAA champion Monica Vaughn, the Arizona State senior from Reedsport, Ore., and Bailey Tardy, a sophomore at Georgia from Peachtree Corners, Ga., were another shot behind the three co-medalists at 11-under 133. Vaughn and Tardy, who were teammates on the 2016 U.S. Curtis Cup team that fell to Great Britain & Ireland, teamed up for a 7-under 65 Sunday after opening up with a 68.
   The opening-round opponent for Fan and Lee will be four-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Meghan Stasi, a South Jersey native and an eight-time Women’s Golf Association of Philadelphia Amateur champion, and Dawn Woodard.
   Stasi of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and Woodard of Greenville, S.C., who have partnered in each of the first three editions of the Four-Ball, matched par with a 72 after opening with a 69. Their 3-under 141 total enabled them to avoid a playoff that saw four pairs battling for the last two spots in match play after finishing tied at 2-under 142.
   Speaking of playoffs, in the men’s Four-Ball Championship at another of America’s great golf playgrounds, the Pinehurst Resort and Country Club in the Village of Pinehurst, N.C., the Huntingdon Valley Country Club duo of Sean Seese and Ben Smith are involved in an 8-for-6 affair that will spill over to Monday morning.
   Seese, a former La Salle High and St. Joseph’s standout, and Smith fired a 4-under 67 over the 7,073-yard, par-71 Pinehurst No. 8 to earn a spot in the playoff at 1-under 140. They had opened with a 3-over 73 on Pinehurst No. 2, the 7,161-yard, par-70 Donald Ross classic.
   All eight teams parred the first extra hole, which means they’ll all be back at it Monday morning to determine the last six teams in match play.
   The Ohio State pair of Clark Engle, a senior from Springfield, Ohio, and Will Grimmer, a sophomore from Cincinnati, claimed medalist honors with a 6-under 64 at Pinehurst No. 2 for a 12-under 129 total. They had opened with a 6-under 65 at Pinehurst No. 8.
   Grimmer shared second place at the Big Ten Championship at Baltimore Country Club’s Five Farms East Course earlier this month.
   Wilson Furr of Jackson, Miss. and Davis Shore of Knoxville, Tenn., had grabbed the opening-round with an 8-under 63 at No. 8, but managed only a 3-under 67 at the tough No. 2 layout to finish a shot behind Engle and Grimmer at 11-under 130.
   The Whitford Country Club duo of David West and Chris Yard added a 79 at No. 8 to the 83 they posted at No. 2 to finish at 162.

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