Recent Seattle University graduate Caitlin McCleary continued her extraordinary run on the golf course Tuesday, posting a score of one-over-par 73 at the OGA Golf Course to finish in fourth place and earn one of five qualifying spots for the 2012 United States Women’s Amateur.
McCleary struggled a little bit at the start of her round, bogeying two of the first four holes. She settled down, posting pars on the next 13 holes before reaching the 383-yard 18th hole, where she hit her second shot to within 15 feet of the cup. McCleary made the birdie putt to move into solo fourth place, securing her spot in the national amateur tournament.
“Qualifiers are difficult because it’s kind of do-or-die, you have to play well because it’s only one round, so getting off to a bad start can really hurt you,” McCleary said. “I did get off to a bad start, but I knew if I stayed patient I could stay in it. When I had the birdie putt, I just kept thinking to myself to not get carried away. It felt good to make the putt and earn my spot without having to go to a playoff.”
Had McCleary not made the birdie putt, she would have been forced to play against three other players for two qualifying spots. Cali Hipp, entering her sophomore season at Oregon, won the qualifier at one-under-par 71, followed by Ami Simanton of UC Davis and Kendall Prince, the Big Ten Freshman of the Year at Ohio State, at even-par 72. Seshia Telles of Oregon State won a three-person playoff to claim the fifth and final qualifying spot.
The 2012 U.S. Women’s Amateur will take place Aug. 6-12 at The Country Club in Cleveland, Ohio. There will be two rounds of stroke play Aug. 6-7, with the top 64 players moving on to a six-round match play tournament Aug. 8-12, culminating with a 36-hole match play championship Sunday, Aug. 12. The Golf Channel will broadcast all five days of match play from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. Pacific Time each day.
Seattle University alum Pat Lesser Harbottle won the 1955 U.S. Women’s Amateur, defeating Jane Nelson in the match play final, 7 and 6, at the Myers Park Country Club in Charlotte, N.C. McCleary, the winner of three intercollegiate tournaments during the 2011-12 season, has been in the midst of preparations for the LPGA and Symetra Tour Qualifying School in September, but now her immediate focus has shifted.
“I’m really excited because this is the best tournament I’ll have been to in my golfing career so far. It’s 156 of the best amateur golfers in the world, and I can’t wait to be a part of it,” said McCleary.
Shannon Quinn, entering her senior year for the Seattle University women’s golf team, also participated in the U.S. Women’s Amateur qualifier Tuesday, but she failed to clinch a spot after finishing in 38th place.