Jennifer Cleary, a Wilmington, Del. resident who attends Tower Hill School, came up just short in her bid to make match play in qualifying Tuesday at the U.S. Girls’ Junior at Boone Valley Golf Club in Augusta, Mo.
Cleary carded a 75 in Monday’s opening round of qualifying and her second-round 78 Tuesday gave her an 11-over-par 153 total, just one shot out of a four-way playoff for the final spot in match play.
Cleary had been the qualifying medalist in a local qualifier for the U.S. Girls’ Junior with an even-par 71 at Silver Creek Country Club.
The runnerup in that qualifier, Ami Gianchandani of Wachtung, N.J., did earn a spot in match play at Boone Valley. Gianchandani, a senior at The Pingry School in Basking Ridge, N.J., added a 74 to her opening-round 75 for a 7-over 149 total.
Gianchandani’s opponent in the opening round of match play will be Macy Fox of Austin, Texas.
Another qualifier from Silver Creek, Bailey Davis, a 14-year-old from White Plains, Md. who will be a freshman at North Point High School in Waldorf, Md. this fall, joined Cleary at 153 with rounds of 77 and 76.
The last of the foursome to emerge from Silver Creek, Christine Shao, Gianchandani’s teammate at The Pingry School, had rounds of 81 and 75 for a 156 total.
The qualifying medal at Boone Valley went to 14-year-old phenom Lucy Li, who fired a sparkling 5-under 66 Tuesday to top the field with a 5-under 137 total. Li of Redwood Shores, Calif. had seven birdies, including four in a row from holes 5 through 8.
Li nearly captured medalist honors as a 13-year-old in last summer’s U.S. Women’s Amateur at Rolling Green Golf Club with rounds of 67 and 68 at the demanding William Flynn design. Li was also the only amateur to make the cut in the ANA Inspiration, the LPGA’s first major championship of the year.
Li will open match play Wednesday against Belinda Hu of San Ramon, Calif., whose par on the first hole of the playoff enabled her to survive the battle among four players for the final spot in match play.
Li finished a shot ahead of Paphangkorn Tavatanakit, a native of Thailand who has been an American Junior Golf Association standout while campaigning from a Van Nuys, Calif. base the last seven summers.
Tavatanakit, who will join the powerful UCLA program later this summer, added a 68 Tuesday to her opening-round 70 to finish a shot behind Li in qualifying at 4-under 138.
South Korea’s Eun Jeong Seong was eligible to go for a third straight Girls’ Junior title after claiming it each of the last two years, but chose not to compete. Seong followed up her victory in last summer’s Girls’ Junior at Ridgewood Country Club in Paramus, N.J. with a win in the U.S. Women’s Amateur at Rolling Green, a double that had never before been accomplished.
I never got back to the U.S. Junior Amateur after the locals failed to advance to match play, but the title went to Noah Goodwin, a 17-year-old from Corinth, Texas who rallied from 4-down with eight holes to play to defeat Matthew Wolff, an 18-year-old from Algoura Hills, Calif., 1-up on the 36th hole in 100-degree plus temperatures at Flint Hills National Golf Club in Andover, Kan.
Goodwin, who is hoping to join the SMU program in time for the spring semester in January of 2018, had lost in the final a year earlier and became the first player since Tim Straub in 1983 to capture the title a year after falling in the title match the previous year. Wolff will join the powerful Oklahoma State program later this summer.