FRANKFORT, Ill. (July 23, 2020) – Three Canadians and five U.S. players from five different states survived the first two rounds of match play Thursday to move into Friday’s quarterfinals in the 120th Women’s Western Amateur at Prestwick Country Club in Frankfort, Illinois.
It was a day of close matches and upsets, as both co-medalists bowed out. In one of the day’s tightest contests, co-medalist Blair Stockett, 21, of Jackson, Mississippi, fell to 16-year-old Canadian Taylor Kehoe, of Strathroy, Ontario, in a seesaw second-round match. Co-medalist Caroline Curtis, 18, of Richmond, Virginia, lost her opening round match to Michaela Farah, of Lima, Peru, 3 & 1.
Fellow Canadians advancing with Kehoe were Brigitte Thibault, 21, of Quebec, and Mary Parsons, also 21, of Delta, British Columbia.
Kehoe overcame a case of the nerves to prevail against the older, more experienced Stockett, a Mississippi State senior.
“This was my first tournament of the year, so I was extremely nervous, but also really excited,” said Kehoe, a high school sophomore who has verbally committed to play her collegiate golf at Alabama. “My goal was just to make it to match play, so everything after that was just adding onto it.”
Stockett held a 1-up lead with three holes to play before Kehoe drained a 75-foot birdie putt from off the green on the par 4, 16th, to tie the match. Kehoe followed with a par at the par 3, 17th to Stockett’s bogey to take a 1-up lead heading into the 18th. Stockett quickly recovered, winning the closing par 4 to send the match to extra holes.
Kehoe bogeyed the first extra hole, the par 4, No. 1, but it proved enough to win the match as Stockett struggled to a double bogey. Neither player held more than a 1-up lead through the match’s 19 holes.
Thibault advanced to the quarterfinals with a 2 and 1 win over Britta Snyder, 18, of Ames, Iowa. Parsons pulled out a 3 & 2 win in her afternoon match against MaKenzie Niblett, 17, of Austin, Texas, by eagling the par 4, 10th, with a 150-yard hole out from the fairway. She then birdied the par 4, 13th to build a 3-up lead on her way to the win.
Also advancing to the quarterfinals were: Ellen Secor, 22, Portland, Ore.; Erica Shepherd, 19, Greenwood, Ind.; Sophie Burks, 21, Tallassee, Ala.; Jackie Lucena, 19, Chico, Calif.; and Chelsea Dantonio, 22, East Aurora, N.Y.
Shepherd, seeded. No. 4, advanced with a 2 & 1 win over Alexandra Swayne, 20, of Cincinnati, Ohio. Shepherd credited her focus on fitness with keeping her strong through her two matches.
“Staying in shape is definitely a priority of mine in my life, and I think it’s underrated in golf,” she said. “Hopefully (Friday is) another long day of golf, because I like playing a lot of holes in one day. It’s what I do.”
The match play quarterfinals and semifinals will be played on Friday, with the first quarterfinal match between Secor and Thibault starting at 7:30 a.m. The 18-hole championship match will be held Saturday morning.
The list of past Women’s Western Amateur champions reads like a “Who’s Who” in women’s golf, including current LPGA stars Ariya Jutanugarn, Stacy Lewis, Brittany Lang and Cristie Kerr.
This is Prestwick’s first WWGA tournament since the 1972 Junior Championship – won by a 15-year-old Nancy Lopez. She went on to become one of the best players in the history of professional golf and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1987.