Following 36 holes of stroke-play qualifying, two Cavaliers have advanced to match play at the US Women's Amateur in Charlotte, NC. Fourth-year All-American Calle Nielson and second-year All-American Brittany Altomare each secured a spot in the 64-player match play field set to begin play Wednesday.
Altomare is the 40th seed after shooting a pair of 74s in stroke play, and will face Jennifer Kirby, a long-hitting sophomore at Alabama, in the opening round. Altomare hit a ton of fairways in stroke play but admittedly hit fewer greens than she wanted to the first two days and will have to make more birdies in order to advance to the round-of-32.
Nielson shot 74-75 over the first two days to earn the 50th seed and will play 14-year-old Sarah Ababa of the Philippines in her first round match.
Breaking down the brackets, neither Wahoo will have an easy run to the finals. (not that winning a national championship is ever easy) Should Altomare beat Kirby, she could face current US Junior Girls Champ Doris Chen in the next round. And by the quarterfinals, a match with stroke-play medalist Rachel Rohanna, Vanderbilt All-American Marina Alex or current number-one ranked amateur Cydney Clanton looms!
For Nielson, the bracket plays out as a veritable who's-who of college All-Americans. Should she advance out of her first match, she would set up a showdown with either Wake Forest All-American Natalie Sheary or Michigan State's Aimee Neff. Then, overall number-two seed Jaclyn Sweeney, Purdue All-American Junthima Gulyanamitta, or NCAA Champion Caroline Hedwall could await her in the quarters and semis. But just like in March Madness, crazy things can always happen when people are facing elimination in match play! Altomare and Nielson's matches start at 10:10 and 12:30 respectively on Wednesday.
The golf course is proving to be a tough match-up in itself, with the back-nine doing the brunt of the damage. Five of the eight-hardest holes this week are on the back nine and the last three holes will prove to be the decisive stretch for most matches this week. Holes 16 and 18 are brutally long par-4s that have played almost half a stroke over par each day this week while the 17th is a short par-3 with the most undulating green on the course.
Three other Cavalier golfers missed the 36-hole cut. Fourth-year Eleana Collins shot 74-79 to miss by two shots, while third-year Lauren Greenlief shot 79-77 and second-year Nicole Agnello shot 81-77.