UNIVERSITY PLACE — Brianna Navarrosa was not the USC player people were talking about heading into the U.S. Women’s Amateur, but she certainly made a statement Thursday at Chambers Bay, working overtime while winning twice to reach the quarterfinals.
It took nearly 14 hours to complete the round-of-32 and the round-of 16, with play being delayed twice because of fog for a total time of 2 hours, 2 minutes.
One of the pretournament favorites was another USC Trojan, rising sophomore star Amari Avery, who recently helped the U.S. win the Curtis Cup and is ranked No. 11 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings. But Avery lost in the final match of the day, falling 1-up to 17-year-old Bailey Shoemaker, who has committed to USC’s 2023 class.
Minutes earlier, Wake Forest senior Rachel Kuehn, also on the winning Curtis Cup team and ranked No. 13 in the world, was upset too. Kuehn lost 1-up when she bogeyed the final hole against 16-year-old Leigh Chien, a junior to be at Santa Margarita (California) Catholic High School.
No one had a tougher road getting to the quarterfinals than Navarrosa, a USC junior seeded No. 45 in match play.
Navarrosa began with a 2-and-1 win over Stanford star Rachel Heck, No. 3 in the World Amateur Rankings. She then defeated No. 4 seed Kelsey Bennett, the highest seed left in the final 16, in 21 holes to end a very long day.
Bennett stayed alive when she made about a 9-foot putt on the 17th hole. On the 18th, Bennett made about a 10-foot birdie putt to get even and extend the match.
“Deep down, I’m, ‘Oh, man, she is really making a run,’ but I can only think to myself, ‘I’m not leaving anything short out there,’ ” said Navarrosa, who said it is the toughest match she had ever played. “She was the one making the putts and all I could do was keep fighting too.”
Navarrosa ended it on the 21st hole of the match with a 3-foot par putt after Bennett made a 15-foot bogey putt on the par-3 third hole.
Navarrosa made a great bunker save on the 17th hole against Heck after envisioning she was playing at her club in Southern California before hitting from the sand. She hit it to about 3 feet from the hole and ended the match when she made the putt.
“We are really good friends,” Navarrosa said of her and Heck. “Of course, she is high ranked but I am not conscious of that. I just play my game.”
Navarrosa, who was third in an NCAA regional this spring, tied for 13th in the Pac-12 championships and tied for 21st in the NCAA championships, said she likes the state of her game.
“I think I was really ready,” Navarrosa said of playing this week.
Also advancing to the quarterfinals were UCLA senior Annabel Wilson, who has not trailed in match play, Princeton freshman Catherine Rao, Michigan junior Monet Chun, Japan’s Saki Baba and New Mexico senior Lauren Lehigh.
The quarterfinals start at 2:30 p.m. when Wilson plays Rao, followed by Navarrosa against Chun, Baba against Lehigh and Chien against Shoemaker.
Navarrosa was pulling for her teammate Avery, but now it’s up to her to represent USC.
“I am so proud of Amari, but I am here for myself too,” Navarrosa said.
13-year-olds lose in round-of-32
Alice Ziyi Zhou, 13, who was one of three co-medalists after stroke play, and fellow 13-year-old Anna Fang, the two youngest players in the field, were both eliminated in the round of 32.
Zhou, from China, was defeated 3 and 1 by Baba. Fang, from San Diego, lost 6 and 5 to Lehigh.
Kuehn wins round-of-32 showdown
Perhaps the best match in the round-of-32 was Kuehn against Stanford senior Brooke Seay, ranked No. 30.
Seay, who was a quarterfinalist in last year’s U.S. Women’s Amateur and 3-0 in match play to help Stanford win the NCAA championship in June, was 2-up through 10 holes.
But Kuehn rallied and won the match 2-up on the 18th hole when Seay conceded a short birdie putt.