Keating one to watch at US Amateur
BY Liz White | US Womens Amateur Tour | 2008 US Women's Amateur | Preview | 03 Aug 2008
Victoria’s Stacey Keating will be one to watch at this week’s biggest amateur prize, the US Amateur championships being contested in Oregon.
Keating’s game is on a high after streaking away to a three shot win at the Canadian Amateur championships last week.
But any talk of favouritism is quickly swept away by the 22-year-old.
“Ill take the same approach as any tournament really but I have to say it is good to be going in with a lot of confidence,” she said.
“I think this event is going to be all about the rough and the greens.”
Keating is right to be concerned about the rough with the US Golf Association setting out a tough layout for the girls.
The primary rough is expected to be over 7cm thick, with the first cut at just over 4cm. Needless to say, straying off the tee will be costly with the USGA rating the course at 78.1.
The first round starts on Monday August 4 (Tuesday Australian time) at the Eugene Country Club in Oregon. After 36 holes the field will be cut to 64 for the match play with the final to be played on Sunday.
The greens are expected to be fast at around 3.5m on the stimpmetre.
“Making up and downs and just playing par golf will pretty much see you through,” Keating said.
“There won’t be any super duper scores, you just have to qualify, you don’t need to shoot the lights out.”
There are however, plenty of girls capable of shooting the lights out at the championship.
The freakishly talented Spaniards, Belen Mozo and Carlotta Ciganda, have entered. Both are recent British Amateur champions in 2006 and 2007 respectively.
When Ciganda won the 2007 UK Amateur Stacey Keating was a fellow competitor and was impressed how the Spaniard could shape the ball at will in the swirling links winds.
Also returning is the Hawaiian Kimberley Kim who at just 14 became the youngest winner of the event in 2006. The girl tagged the next Michelle Wie, is in great form having just recently qualified for the US Open played in Minnesota last month. Although she missed the cut, Kim has shown she has tremendous self-belief, coming from 5 down to win the 2006 Amateur title.
The world number one ranked amateur, Alison Walshe, and third ranked Meghan Bolger, will join her.
Both these girls have an impressive resume as does the world No 7, Marika Lendl, daughter of tennis star Ivan Lendl.
Australia’s other entrant, South Australia’s Stephanie Na, on her first solo trip overseas will be hoping for a form reversal after struggling last week at the Canadian Amateur. The young 18-year-old has been away from home for almost six weeks and did not have the tournament she was hoping for in Winnipeg. She made the cut but finished way back on +24.
Keating, however, is in scintillating form and says if she ends up in a tight match with one of America’s favourites, she’ll be ready for the underdog role.
During her final round of the Canadian amateur Keating says she felt she was on her own.
“It was funny playing out there, the crowd were really cheering for their own, that’s for sure.
“Every time she would put her approach shot on the green they would go a little crazy, I wasn’t one of them so there wasn’t a lot of people there cheering for me, except Steph (fellow Australian Stephanie Na).
“But that’s okay you would see the same thing in Australia.”
Keating has had a successful tour of the United States, posting a third at the Colorado Stroke play and winning her US Amateur qualifying event at Colorado Golf Club in Parker. She also reached the third round of the North and South Amateur where she was unlucky to lose on the 20th.
The 22-year-old has had plenty of time to assess her opponents and has noticed one major difference between the US and home.
“The girls here have very good short games, they really focus on it a lot,” she said.
“The courses are also longer, so you are hitting a lot longer irons into the par fours in particular,” she said.
“You have to hit those well to score.”
It’s been a whirlwind weekend for the Victorian and after winning the Canadian Amateur she discovered her victory earned her a start in the USLPGA event, the Canadian Open to be played immediately after this tournament.
“I don’t know how I am going to get focussed again but I just have to tell myself it’s another tournament and move on.
“I’ll just give it my best and see what happens.”