June 22, 2013
Norman, Okla. -
Incoming freshman Lauren Diaz-Yi will face stroke play co-medalist Doris Chen in Saturday's 36-hole championship match of the 2013 U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship, being conducted at the 6,351-yard, par-72 Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club.
Diaz-Yi, 18, of Thousand Oaks, Calif., and Chen, 20, of Bradenton, Fla., each won a pair of matches on Friday to reach the final.
Last month, Chen, a rising junior at the University of Southern California, helped the Trojans win the NCAA Division I title by a record 21 strokes.
Diaz-Yi twice needed just 15 holes to eliminate Krystal Quihuis and fellow Southern Californian Raychelle Santos in the quarterfinals and semifinals by 4-and-3 margins.
The Women's Amateur Public Links began with 36 holes of stroke-play qualifying, with the low 64 scorers advancing to match play which began Wednesday. Five rounds of match play were conducted prior to Saturday's final.
Both finalists are exempt into the U.S. Women's Amateur in August at the Country Club of Charleston (S.C.), and the champion also receives an exemption into the 2014 U.S. Women's Amateur at Nassau Country Club in Glen Cove, N.Y.
The WAPL is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
Diaz-Yi won six holes in an eight-hole stretch on the outward nine to take a commanding 5-up lead over Santos into the turn.
"At the beginning of the round, I was all over the place," said Santos. "I was losing holes with bogeys and doubles. On the back nine, I hit some better drives.
"She was just solid and I knew she was going to be in the fairway. I wasn't."
As fatigue set in on the second nine, Diaz-Yi made consecutive bogeys to see her advantage trimmed to 3 up after 13 holes. But she halved 14 and won the par-3 15th with a par to reach her first-ever USGA final.
"I was really tired," said Diaz-Yi. "I was 5 up after nine and I just wanted to be steady ... and not do anything crazy. I had a couple of slips here and there."
Concerning her matchup with the more-experienced Chen, Diaz-Yi plans on keeping her expectations low.
"I am just going to rest and just crash," said Diaz-Yi of her preparations. "Playing with Doris is going to be a lot of fun. She's a U.S. Girls' Junior champion. She knows what it's like to be there ... She birdied 18 to extend her quarterfinal match. That's Doris.
"She's going to be very competitive and it's not going to be an easy match ... Honestly, what do I have to lose? "
Note: Story courtesy of USGA.