Ami Gianchandani, a senior at The Pingry School from Wachtung, N.J., is officially on a roll at the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship at Boone Valley Golf Club in Augusta, Mo.
Gianchandani, who reached the Girls’ Junior out of a qualifier administered by the Golf Association of Philadelphia at Silver Creek Country Club, advanced to the quarterfinals with her second match win of the day Thursday.
And she took out one of the heavyweights of junior golf, Thailand’s Paphangkorn Tavatanakit, 1-up, to reach the quarterfinals.
Tavatanakit has spent her summers in Van Nuys, Calif. the last seven years, competing in junior golf events. She was the American Junior Golf Association’s 2016 Rolex Player of the Year. She has played in two major professional championships this year, the ANA Inspiration and the U.S. Women’s Open. She will join the powerhouse UCLA program after playing in yet another LPGA major, The Evian Championship in France later this year. She’s No. 32 in the latest Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking.
You get the picture. The girl can play. Tavatanakit was seeded second in match play after rounds of 70 and 68 in qualifying for a 4-under 138 total. Gianchandani had more modest rounds of 75 and 74, but her 149 total got the job done. It got her into match play. And in match play … well, stuff happens in match play.
Gianchandani jumped out to a 2-up lead on Tavatanakit by winning the first hole with a birdie and the third hole with a par. Tavatanakit quickly got the match back to all square by winning the fifth with a par and the sixth with a birdie.
They traded wins with Gianchandani taking the seventh with a par, but losing the eighth to a Tavatanakit par. But just when Tavatanakit seemed to restore order in the match by going 1-up with a birdie at the 13th, Gianchandani came right back to even the match by winning the 14th with a par.
It stayed that way until the 18th hole when Gianchandani’s par was good enough to give her a stunning 1-up decision.
Gianchandani will battle Elizabeth Moon of Forrest City, Ark. in Friday morning’s quarterfinals. Moon ousted Alexa Pano, only 12, but a rising star on the junior scene, 3 and 2, in a round-of-16 upset. The winner of the Gianchandani-Moon match will take on the winner of a quarterfinal match between Erica Shepherd of Greenwood, Ind. and Youngin Chun of Gainesville, Fla. in the semifinals Friday afternoon.
Earlier Thursday, Gianchandani jumped on Ellie Szeryk of Canada early on her way to a 3 and 2 victory in a second-round match. Gianchandini played 2-under par golf for the first 11 holes to build a 5-up lead.
Gianchandani jumped out to a big lead in her opening-round match with Macy Fox of Austin, Texas Wednesday and held on for a 2 and 1 victory.
The Girls’ Junior medalist, 14-year-old Lucy Li of Redwood Shores, Calif., was an upset victim in the second round Thursday morning, dropping a 2 and 1 decision to Yu-Sang Hou of Chinese Taipei. Hou, however, fell to Jennifer Chang of Cary, N.C., 2 and 1, in the round of 16. Chang has not trailed in any of her three matches on her way to the quarterfinals.
Chang will face Calista Reyes of San Diego in another quarterfinal match Thursday morning.