Mexico's Barragan Medals, Reese McCauley Edges Sister Isabella to Advance to U.S. Girls' Junior

June 27, 2022
By Nick Hunter

  WAYZATA, Minn. – After posting an even par 71 Monday at Woodhill Country Club, Reese McCauley watched group after group finish on the 18th hole, anticipating the thought of qualifying for her first United States Golf Association championship.

Finishing one shot behind Mexico’s Maria Jose Barragan, McCauley advanced from a two-hole playoff to earn the second and final spot in the U.S. Girls’ Junior Amateur at The Club at Olde Stone in Bowling Green, Ky., next month.

The only problem for McCauley was the fact she needed to beat older sister, Isabella, to move on.

“I am excited to go, but I really wanted the both of us to qualify,” the younger McCauley said Monday. “It was fun, but kind of intense for the last two holes in the playoff."

Playing countless rounds together previously, the two sisters have never met head-to-head in a sudden death situation.

“It’s never been like that, never in a playoff. We’re not super competitive when we play normally because we play together every day. We tied for first at sections this year, but there wasn’t a playoff.”

McCauley jumped out to a fast start by sinking a 15-footer for birdie at the second and two-putted the third for birdie before a bogey at the fourth. The 2021 Class AAA individual champion answered with a birdie at the fifth, but would give a stroke back with a bogey at the sixth to slip back to 1-under for the tournament.

Settling into a rhythm mid-round, McCauley would card 11 straight pars before a bogey at the last would put her into a tie for second with her sister at even par 71. On the second playoff hole, Reese McCauley two-putted from 15 feet to earn the final spot with a par, advancing to her first USGA championship.

“I started out pretty well and kind of leveled out the rest of the round,” McCauley said after qualifying Monday. “I’m looking forward to the experience and the competition with a lot of good players. I’ve never played in a tournament this big before.”

In 10 appearances at state events since 2019, McCauley has never finished worse than eighth. She placed third at the Class AAA championship at Bunker Hills earlier this month and finished second at the Minnesota Girls’ Junior PGA Championship at Bemidji Town and Country Tuesday.

Barragan, from Morelia, Mexico, entered this week’s qualifier after advancing to match play at the 95th Women’s Western Golf Association National Junior Championship at Prestwick Country Club in Frankfort, Ill., on Friday.

The 17-year-old scattered two birdies against two bogeys over her first six holes Monday, but would stay in red figures for the remainder of her round following a birdie at the par-4 ninth. A two-putt par at the 18th secured Barragan’s spot at her first USGA championship next month.

“I didn’t play a practice round, so I wanted to make fairways, greens, two putts and go,” Barragan said after her round Monday. “I made some good second shots and had chances for birdies. I didn’t know the greens really well. I started to figure out how to roll the ball."

“I’m really happy because qualifying for the U.S. Girls’ was one of my goals of this year. I didn’t have expectations because I know I can have a good round. I’m hitting my irons and my drives well."

The 73rd edition of the national championship is set to be played July 18-23 at the 6,485-yard, par 73 layout, built in 2006.

This year’s event is the first U.S. Girls’ Junior played in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. An Arthur Hills design, The Club at Olde Stone hosted the Junior Ryder Cup in 2008 and a pair of Kentucky Opens. The Southern Junior was played at the club in 2015, followed by the Southern Amateur in 2018.

Isabella McCauley, who made headlines last season as the youngest Minnesotan to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open, where she missed the cut by two strokes, finished as first alternate Monday, while Mimi Burton, of Austin, Texas, finished as second alternate.

Nick Hunter

Nick Hunter is entering his tenth season covering golf in Minnesota as news editor for the MGA's website. He resides in New Prague with his wife, Amber, and two sons.

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