Sambach & Virginia Dominating Annika Intercollegiate
September 13, 2022
By Michael R Fermoyle
LAKE ELMO -- Amanda Sambach seems determined to take all the suspense out of the Annika Intercollegiate.
The Annika brings together some of the best teams in Women's NCAA Division I golf at the beginning of each college season, and a lot of the best individuals. Hannah Darling, a University of South Carolina sophomore who was a Golfweek first-team All-American as a freshman and is No. 15 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, shot a 6-under-par 66 at Royal Golf Club on Tuesday, and her 36-hole total of 139 (5 under) has her in a three-way tie with her South Carolina teammate Mathilde Claisse and Wake Forest's Lauren Walsh.
Claisse shot 67 on Tuesday, and Walsh matched Darling's 66. One shot behind the threesome at 139 are Michigan's Monet Chun, who finished second in the U.S. Women's Amateur exactly one month ago, and Bohyun Park of Texas. And there are another 10 players within four strokes of them.
All of the elements would have been there for a dramatilc final round on Wednesday -- except that Sambach spent the first two days of the tournament separating herself from the field. She will go into the final round with a six-shot lead, at 133, after she torched the back nine at Royal with four birdies and no bogeys on Tuesday and followed her opening-round 65 with a 68.
Sambach had a pretty successful freshman year at Virginia (she received All-American honorable mention) with a summer that included a third-place finish at the North & South Women's Amateur and a 17th-place finish in the stroke-play portion of the U.S. Women Amateur. But if she had putted better, it could have been a great freshman year and summer.
So as she was getting ready for the 2022-23 college season, she got a couple of putting lessons and switched putters, from a mallet to a blade -- and suddenly, she has become a very good putter.
"It has completely changed everything," she said Monday. "I have never putted this well. It has been a huge change, but it's been good so far."
It was good again Tuesday, although it took her a little longer to get going than it did in the first round. She birdied the 516-yard, par-5 second hole, but she didn't make any more birdies on the front nine, and she suffered her only bogey in the 36 holes thus far at the 406-yard, par-4 eighth. The back nine was a different story, and she saved her best for last. She birdied the par-4 11th hole (410 yards), then parred the next three, before rattling off three birdies in the last three holes -- the drivable par-4 15th (296 yards), and Royal's two concluding par 5s: the 528-yard 17th and the 451-yard 18th.
"She really has committed herself to becoming a great putter," Virginia coach Ria Scott said. "That has been the difference maker her in the first few weeks since we've been back. Her ball-striking has always been exceptional, but now she's getting the putts to fall."
With Sambach setting the pace, the Wahoos, as Virginia students like to call their teams -- rather than use the official nickname: Cavaliers -- are leading the team competition. They followed a first-day 284 with a 283 on Tuesday and lead second-place Wake Forest by six shots, 567 to 573. There are three more teams within 10 of Virginia -- South Carolina at 574, and both Michigan and Duke at 576.
Minnesota is the host team for the Annika, and the Gophers have put themselves in with a very fast crowd. Golfweek has a pre-season top 30, and all 11 of the other teams in this tournament are in there. It is indicative of how tough this field is that the highest-ranked team, No. 2 Oregon, is in eighth place, 14 shots behind at 581.
Virginia is No. 14 in the rankings. Wake Forest is No. 3 and South Carolina No. 4.
Minnesota, which isn't ranked (the Gophers were No. 101 in the final 2021-22 rankings), are 12th out of 12 teams, but they could move up on Wednesday. At 603, they are within 10 shots of 10th-place Auburn.
Emma Carpenter, a senior from DeKalb, Ill., shot 73 on Tuesday, and at 147, she's tied for 27th. But that's only five strokes out of a tie for ninth. Leah Herzog, a senior -- and former Minnesota Ms. Golf -- from Red Wing, had an eventful first round. In her first 12 holes, she made two birdies, six pars, one bogey -- and three doubles. She finished the round bogey-birdie on the 17th and 18th holes for a 77. But she bounced back with a 73 on Tuesday, despite making her fourth double of the tournament on the 13th hole (400 yards, par 4), and she's tied for 44th at 150.
At Royal Golf Club
Par 72, 6,4089 yards
Second-round results (Golfweek pre-season rankings for teams are in parenthesis)
1. Virginia (14) 284-283--567 (-9)
2. Wake Forest (3) 294-279--573
3. South Carolina (4) 295-279--574
T4. Michigan (15) 288-288--576
T4. Duke (28) 292-284--576
6. Texas (16) 288-291--579
7. Florida (19) 294-286--580
8. Oregon (2) 292-289--581
9. Arizona State (6) 300-285--585
10. Auburn (12) 303-290--593
11. Alabama (26) 303-293--596
12. Minnesota (not in top 30) 304-299--603
1. Amanda Sambach, Virginia 65-68--133
T2. Hannah Darling, So. Carolina 73-66--139
T2. Lauren Walsh, Wake Forest 73-66--139
T2. Mathilde Claisse, So. Carolina 72-67--139
T5. Monet Chun, Michigan 72-68--140
T5. Bohyun Park, Texas 69-71--140
T7. Massie Filler, Florida 74-67--141
T7. Phiebe Brinker, Duke 72-69--141
T9. Emilia Migliaccio, Wake Forest 74-68--142
T9. Megan Schofill, Auburn 72-70--142
T27. Emma Carpenter, Minnesota 74-73--147
T44. Leah Herzog, Minnesota 77-73-150
T52. Bella McCauley, Minnesota 76-76--152
T54. Mariana Mesones, Minnesota 77-77--154
59. Grace Curran, Minnesota 79-81--160