Curran Is Medalist in U.S. Women's Am Qualifier; Ledwein, Misemer, Gregg & Borovilos Advance
July 5, 2022
By Michael R Fermoyle
BLAINE -- Grace Curran is from New Lennox, Ill., but she goes to the University of Minnesota. So she's seen what a winters around here can be like, the ones that refuse to end, and what can seem like 60 or 70 days of March. The Winter of 2021-22, for example. In spite of that, she still likes it here.
Two years ago, after her freshman season with the Gopher women's golf team, she stayed in Minnesota long enough after the school year ended to win the MGA Women's Match Play Championship. But she went home shortly after that.
This year, she's sticking around for the entire summer, and on Tuesday, as she played in the U.S. Women's Amateur Qualifying at Victory Links GC, she got a taste of what summer weather can be like in the Twin Cities. It started with a morning that brought fog so thick you couldn't see 50 yards -- and pushed tee times back an hour and a half. That was followed by an oppressive combination of heat and humidity, which made simply hanging on the golf club difficult at times. And then there was the wind.
Actually, by the standards of this spring, the wind didn't seem all that bad. Nevertheless, the velocities were still in double digits for much of the day. It made the heat seem more tolerable, but it complicated club selection.
So the conditions weren't all that favorable for scoring, and Victory Links isn't an easy course. Nevertheless, Curran managed to play a round that was nearly bogey free. The former Illinois state high school champion took advantage of accurate wedge shots and birdied the 445-yard, par-5 second, the 388-yard, par-4 third and the 352-yard, par-4 sixth on the way to a front-nine 32. She made her only bogey at the 15th (382 yards, par 4), the result of an errant 7-iron approach shot. But her 7-iron redeemed itself with a gorgeous 143-yard second shot into the wind at the 394-yard, par-4 18th, and she converted the subsequent 14-foot putt for birdie.
That gave her a 3-under-par 68, which was good enough to earn medalist honors -- and a place in the 2022 U.S. Amateur. It will be played Aug. 8-14 at Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash.
Some people call these kinds of qualiying tournaments "local," but that wouldn't really be an accurate description of the field that assembled at Victory Links on Tuesday. Fifteen of the top 22 finishers were from outside Minnesota, and six of them were from outside the United States.
There were five spots in this year's Am available on Tuesday, and four players finished one shot behind Curran at 69. That made it a clean cut. No playoff required, except for the alternates.
Last year, no Minnesotans qualified from Wayzata CC. This year, there was one from Victory Links. Taylor Ledwein, the 2020 MGA Women's Co-Player of the Year (along with Kate Smith), had the cleanest card of the day. She made no bogeys in her 69 and birdied two of the four par 5's, the 445-yard second and the 485-yard 16th.
Ledwein is a former two-time Minnesota state high school champ from New Prague who won two college tournaments during her senior year (2020-21) at Bradley. She played in the LPGA Q-School last year, but did it as an amateur, so that when she missed the qualifying, she retained her amateur status. She plans to give Q-School another shot this year.
"I'll play in this (the Women's Amateur)," she said, "and then go right from that to Florida and get ready for Q-School."
Julia Gregg, an Arkansas senior to be from Farmers Branch, Texas, made it out of Minnesota for the second year in a row. She got off to a less-than-great start Tuesday, with a bogey at the first hole, and was still 1 over after birdieing the second and bogeying the sixth. But she played the next seven holes in 3 under and parred out from there to finish at 2 under.
Julia Misemer was tied with Curran at the top of the scoreboard for much of the day. A four-time Kansas state high school Class 6A winner who will start her freshman year at Arizona this fall, she birdied the second, the sixth and the seventh holes. She was the only player who got to 4 under Tuesday, which she did with a birdie at the 14th (301 yards, par 4). But she gave two back on the 15th and 16th on her way to 69.
"Then I kind of lost it for a while," she said, "and I bogeyed the next two holes. But I got things back together and parred the last two."
The other 69 was posted by Vanessa Borovilos, a Canadian who won't graduate from high school for another two years. But she's been doing things she seemed too young to do for a long time, including winning the World Junior Championship when she was 11 years old. Borovilos got to 3 under twice, first when she birdied the 14th hole. She followed that with a bogey, but then birdied the 16th, only to bogey the 18th and slip back into the tie for second at 2 under.
Although Curran didn't spend the summer here last year, she did come to Minnesota for the Amateur qualifying at Wayzata. She missed -- initially. After shooting 71 and finishing in a three-way tie for third, she lost a 3-for-2 playoff, but she eventually got into the Am as the first alternate. In the Am, which was at Westchester CC in Rye, N.Y., she 158 (79-79) and missed the cut.
So the fact that an alternate from here got into U.S. Am last year gave the four players who tied for sixth on Tuesday a little additional incentive when they played off for the two alternate spots.
It was another Ausie, Kristen Rudgeley, who won the playoff by parring the first hole and making an 18-footer for eagle on the second.
Jayden Jevnick, a 14-year-old from Cave Creek, Ariz., burned the edge with her eagle putt from 25 feet at No. 2. But she got the second alternate spot when Leah Herzog, a former Ms. Minnesota Golf (high school player of the year) from Red Wing who will be a senior at Minnesota this fall, missed a 5-footer for birdie. The fourth in the alternate playoff was Sophia Yoemans, a former Red Wing teammate of Herzog's, and a two-time state high school champ who was also the 2021 MGA Women's Amateur winner. She was eliminated when she missed a 4-footer for par on the first hole.
2022 U.S. Women's Amateur Qualifying
At Victory Links Golf Course
Par 71, 6,206 yards
Final results (top 5 finishers qualify for the U.S. Women's Amateur, which will be played Aug. 8-14 at Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash.)
1. Grace Curran, New Lennox, Ill. 68
T2. Taylor Ledwein, New Prague 69
T2. Julia Misemer, Overland Park, Kansas 69
T2. Julia Gregg, Farmers Branch, Texas 69
T2. Vanessa Borovilos, Canada 69
Did not qualify
Kristen Rudgeley, Australia 70 1st alternate (won 4-for2 playoff with par/eagle)
Jayden Jevnick, Cave Creek, Ariz. 70 2nd alternate (finished 2nd in playoff with par/birdie)
Leah Herzog, Red Wing 70
Sophia Yoemans, Red Wing 70
Charley Jacobs, Australia 71
Kathryn VanArragon, Blaine 71
Annick Haczkiewicz, Las Vegas 71
Matilda Meis, Australia 71
Gile Bite Starkute, Lithuania 72
Camille Kuznik, Orono 72
Hannah Boraas, Alexandria 73
Emma Carpenter, Dekalb, Ill. 73
Taylor Waller, Caonsburg, Pa. 73
Courtney Wedin, Chanhassen 73
Qualifying Spots: 5 Alternates: 2