27 April 2021: At the start of their duel against Jordan Fischer and Chloe Kovelesky, there were signs of a nervous start for Anika Varma and Meghan Royal. But the young duo put the jitters to rest quickly to eke out a 2&1 win to progress into the round of 16 in the US Women’s Amateur Four-Ball at the Maridoe Golf Club in Texas. The top seeds Paris Hilinski and Alexa Pano continued to showcase their pedigree, pulling off a convincing 3 and 1 victory over Carlota Palacios and Jennifer Rosenberg, who worked their way into the knockout stages from a 5-for-1 playoff for the 32nd spot.
Gianna Clemente and Avery Zweig, 13 & 14 respectively, continued to betray their status as the youngest team of the lot. The duo pulled off a sensational 3&2 win over the most seasoned team in the competition – Meghan Stasi, 42 and Dawn Woodard, 46.
“They got off to a hot start, and we were just lucky enough to hang on, and we knew that the stretch of holes from 9 through 13 was going to be extremely difficult, and that’s where pars would win,” said Zweig. “That’s what I was looking forward to all day, and I’d say we handled it pretty well.”
Pano is a 2018 US Girls Junior runner-up eager to climb the next step on the podium. “They just made every single putt and played really well,” said Pano. “We both were really confident on the back nine. I was secured for par and Paris was taking her reads and draining everything she looked at. I had a really clutch partner today.”
Ami Gianchandani and Kaitlyn Lee suffered an unceremonious exit, after finishing among the three medallists at the end of the strokeplay rounds on Sunday. They were denied any further glory by a determined Jensen Castle and Marissa Wenzler, two and one. Castle and Wenzler had their spirits lifted by two of their own. Laney Frye and Maria Villanueva, members on the University of Kentucky women’s golf team alongside Castle and Wenzler caddied for their team mates setting aside their own disappointment at not making the match-play bracket.
“We didn’t have caddies during the first two rounds so it was great having our teammates around,” said Wenzler. “All four of us being together was fun. We did a really good job staying in the moment.”
Fischer and Kovelesky made a birdie on the par-5 second to take the lead in their contest against Anika and Meghan. Their advantage was shortlived though as the Indo-American partnership earned points on three of four holes from the fifth to go two up.
Fischer and Kovelesky snatched one back with a birdie on the ninth, but conceded the twelfth to fall back by two. The two teams exchanged the advantage again on the 14th and 15th holes as they continued to jostle for a decisive move. But both teams made par on the 16th and 17th holes, leaving Anika and Meghan rejoicing at a solid victory built around great discipline and five birdies.
Anika and Meghan will have formidable opponents standing in their path to the quarterfinals.
Jillian Bourdage and partner Casey Weidenfeld were runners-up in the 2019 edition of the US Women’s Amateur Four-Ball. They earned a hard fought one-up win against Sarah Kahn and Samantha Vodry.
Monday’s winners will compete in the Round of 16 on Tuesday morning. The quarterfinal round will take place in the afternoon. The semifinal round and 18-hole final will take place on Wednesday.