DUPONT — The three teammates like to do things together, from taking classes to just hanging out.
They took togetherness to another level Thursday at the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship at The Home Course.
Washington Husky golfers SooBin Kim, Jennifer Yang and Eimi Koga each won their morning rounds, then each saw their tournaments end in the afternoon’s round of 16. Kim and Koga lost by the same score, 3 and 1.
Also losing in the round of 16 was defending champ Lauren Diaz-Yi, in a rematch of last year’s title match. Doris Chen avenged a 10-9 loss in that 36-hole final with a 6-and-4 win. Katie Lee of Silverdale lost in the round of 32.
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“I was thinking too much and doubting too much (last year),” said Chen, the USC standout who won the NCAA title this spring. “I’ve been working on that.”
It was a glorious morning for the Huskies. SooBin Kim, a senior-to-be at UW who is ranked No. 24 in the World Amateur Ranking, won 2 and 1 over Diane Finkelstein, a UNLV star who is No. 27 in the world.
Meanwhile, Yang, who was also Kim’s high-school teammate in British Columbia, won 3 and 2 over Kaci Macuda. That set up a potential quarterfinal matchup between the two longtime friends, with each needing one more win.
“It would be hard playing her, but at least it would mean that we both made it that far,” said Kim, the No. 2 seed in match play.
Yang, UW’s top player for much of the spring, rallied in the morning after falling 2-down through three holes, winning 3-2. But the senior-to-be was unable to rally in the afternoon, losing 6 and 4 to Cindy Ha.
Koga surpassed her expectations. A freshman last season, she rarely played but learned a lot from practicing with Kim and Yang.
“Being a freshman, they really helped me a lot,” Koga said. “SooBin lives close to me and even cooked dinner for me sometimes.”
Koga showed she could be a star in the making. She was 1-down after 16 holes of her morning round against Arizona State standout Monica Vaughn, then won the final two holes.
That moved her into a matchup against Eun Jeong Seong, the 14-year-old from Korea who set a tournament record at 10-under in stroke play, and was the No. 1 seed in match play.
Koga was not intimidated against the long-hitting Seong, winning the first two holes with birdies. After falling 2-down after 12 holes, Koga kept going, halving the 13th hole with a 15-foot par putt, then halving the 15th hole when she chipped in for a birdie. She lost despite being 2 under.
“My goal was just to make the cut (from 156 players to 64 for match play), because I didn’t even come close last year,” she said. “And I was happy with how I hung in there in match play.”
The quarterfinals and semifinals are Friday, with tee times starting at 8 a.m.
Tournament reports contributed.