Albane Valenzuela, Sophia Schubert to square off for U.S. Women’s Amateur title

“It means so much,” said Schubert of making the final. “Standing on the first tee this morning, seeing those trophies (U.S. Women’s Amateur and U.S. Women’s Open) out there and hearing that if I win today, I’ll get to play in the [U.S. Women’s Open], that just means everything because that’s what I’ve worked for my whole life.”

The U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship is open to female amateur golfers with a Handicap Index® not exceeding 5.4. It consists of 36 holes of stroke play followed by six rounds of match play to determine the champion. The championship match begins at 7 a.m. PDT Sunday.

Both finalists are exempt into the 2018 U.S. Women’s Open Championship at Shoal Creek in suburban Birmingham, Ala. The champion receives a 10-year U.S. Women’s Amateur exemption as well as a gold medal and custody of the Robert Cox Trophy for one year. The winner also typically receives exemptions into three other women’s professional major championships: the 2017 Evian Championship, the 2018 ANA Inspiration and the Ricoh Women’s British Open, provided she remains an amateur.

The runner-up receives a three-year U.S. Women’s Amateur exemption and a silver medal. Vu and Wu are exempt into the next two U.S. Women’s Amateurs and received bronze medals.

Tape-delayed coverage of the semifinals will be broadcast from 7-10 p.m. EDT on Fox Sports 1. The championship match will be broadcast on FS1 from 4-7 p.m., with extensive bonus coverage of the morning 18 round on from 12:30-2:30 p.m.

The matchup between the No. 3 (Valenzuela) and No. 5 (Vu) players in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking™ figured to be highly competitive. Vu registered four consecutive collegiate titles in the spring for the Bruins, including the Pacific-12 Conference individual crown, an event in which Valenzuela finished tied for 11th.

But Valenzuela, who made the cut in the 2016 ANA Inspiration and U.S. Women’s Open as well as tied for 21st in the Summer Olympics (one of three amateurs in the 60-player field) in Rio de Janeiro, was coming off a runner-up finish in the European Ladies Amateur two weeks ago, where she held the 54-hole lead by seven strokes only to falter with a final-round 76 to lose by one to France’s Agathe Laisne.

Vu, who was bothered by a sore back that she might have attributed to fatigue from a long week of golf, built an early 1-up lead thanks to a Valenzuela bogey on No. 5. In fact, neither golfer made a birdie until the par-5 eighth hole, where both holed putts inside 8 feet.

But Vu started to unravel on the second nine, making four consecutive bogeys that began with an 18-inch lip-out on No. 10 that squared the match. Valenzuela, who was born in New York but moved to Switzerland with her parents (her dad is Mexican and mother is French) 14 years ago, won No. 11 with a birdie and No. 12 with a par. She closed out the match by stuffing her wedge approach to 2 feet on No. 16 and converting the birdie. 

“It was a grind for me,” said Vu. “Albane doesn’t make any mistakes, and I did on the back nine. I got tired, and I couldn’t keep it in the fairway. I couldn’t keep it out. I let it go, basically, on those stretch of three holes.”

Added Valenzuela: “I’ve played quite a lot of tournaments under a lot of pressure, and I think I learned a lot from my mistakes. Sometimes I would approach those tournaments with kind of some fear, but now I realize fear doesn’t bring you anything. The best defense is attack, so that’s what I keep telling myself … let’s go for it, she’s going to come out at you, so just go, go and go.

“I guess that’s kind of the attitude I’ve been having in match play now, and the good thing in Europe is we get to play a lot of match-play events, so I played the Vagliano [Trophy against Great Britain & Ireland] in June, won all my matches, and that really gave me confidence because before, when I played the Spanish International and the French International, the furthest I got was [the Round of] 32. So I would win in team events, but individually I was not winning that many matches, and I knew I had the game to win that kind of event. You know, it’s great, and now I’m able to really pull out my game under pressure and just play well in match play.”

Source: Fox Sports

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