FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Marijosse Navarro and Princess Mary Superal have survived two rounds of stroke play and five rounds of match play, and now the two 17-year-olds will meet with the 2014 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship title on the line.
Navarro, of Mexico, and Superal, of the Philippines, won their quarterfinal and semifinal matches on Friday to advance to Saturday’s 36-hole championship final at Forest Highlands Golf Club’s Meadow Course.
Both semifinal matches were nail-biting affairs. Navarro drained a spectacular, downhill 40-foot birdie on the 21st hole to eliminate Shelly Shin, 16, of Australia. Superal never trailed in her 2-up victory over Cindy Ha, 17, of Demarest, N.J., but had to survive her opponent’s fierce inward-nine comeback.
Navarro carried a 1-up lead to the turn, but Shin won the next three holes to take a 2-up advantage. Navarro reached the green in two at the par-5 14th, two-putting for birdie and chipping a hole off her deficit. Another birdie at the par-4 16th squared the match, and extra holes were necessary after the final two holes in regulation were halved.
Navarro had a prime opportunity to take the match at the first playoff hole when Shin’s second shot at the 14th found the pond fronting the green. With Navarro on in two, Shin’s fourth shot impressively nestled within 2 feet. Navarro three-putted for par, and Shin’s near tap-in extended the match.
Navarro ultimately took the victory on the 16th green. Faced with a long birdie try, the three-time Women’s Mexican Amateur champion calmly stroked her ball down the hill and into the hole. Shin’s birdie attempt from 25 feet to keep the match going rolled long.
“I was just trying to do my best and it went in,” said Navarro, who has already completed a semester at Texas A&M University after graduating high school last October. “It was too fast but thank God it went in.”
Superal won the first two holes against Ha, who reached the semifinals of last week’s U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship. She stretched the advantage to 3 up when Ha shanked her tee shot at the par-4 ninth and had to settle for double bogey.
But Ha picked up steam on the inward nine, winning holes 12 and 14 with birdies to cut her deficit to one hole.
“I just told myself to be positive,” said Superal of her method of dealing with the match’s turn in her opponent’s favor.
The match came to the par-5 18th with Superal holding a tenuous 1-up lead. Both players hit the green in three, and when Ha’s 40-foot birdie rolled long, Superal smoothly stroked her 4-footer into the hole for the win.
“I feel very happy and surprised,” said Superal, who competes extensively in the Asia-Pacific region and won the 2014 Kuala Lumpur Open. “I really didn’t expect anything. I just did my best.”
In Friday morning’s quarterfinal round, Navarro advanced by knocking in a 4-foot birdie at 18 to beat Andrea Lee, 15, of Hermosa Beach, Calif. Superal drained a 6-foot birdie on the first extra hole to eliminate 2013 semifinalist Bethany Wu, 17, of Diamond Bar, Calif.
Both players received tremendous support from the gallery. Navarro’s parents, Hugo and Mayda, whom she lovingly called “my everything,” are always alongside in quiet support. Conversely, Superal’s fellow Philippine National Team players and U.S. Girls’ Junior competitors Sofia Chabon and Yuka Saso, boisterously cheer on their teammate.
“It’s very overwhelming,” sad Superal. “I feel very happy that they always support me in every tournament.”
The championship match will be the fourth all-international final in championship history. Navarro and Superal join Sukjin-Lee Wuesthoff and Inbee Park in 2003; I.K. Kim and Inbee Park in 2005; and Ariya Jutanugarn and Superal’s countrywoman Dottie Ardina in 2011.
Should Superal win on Saturday, she would be the first Filipino to win a USGA championship (Ardina was the runner-up in 2011). Navarro would become the second Mexican-born player to capture a USGA championship, joining 2010 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur champion Mina Hardin, who was the first Mexican player on the LPGA Tour.
Navarro and Superal both receive exemptions into the 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship, to be conducted Aug. 4-10 at Nassau Country Club in Glen Cove, N.Y. Both players had already qualified for the championship. The winner will receive an exemption into the 2015 U.S. Women’s Amateur, to be held at Portland (Ore.) Country Club.
The 2014 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship consists of 36 holes of stroke play followed by six rounds of match play. The championship is scheduled to conclude with a 36-hole final at 7 a.m. MST on Saturday. Golf Channel will have coverage of Saturday’s championship final from 5-7 p.m. MST.
The U.S. Girls’ Junior is one of 13 national championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
Christina Lance is an assistant manager of communications for the USGA. Email her at email@example.com.
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Results from Friday morning’s quarterfinal round of match play at the 2014 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship, being conducted on the Meadow Course at the 6,718-yard, par-72 Forest Highlands Golf Club:
Cindy Ha, Demarest, N.J. (145) def. Brigitte Dunne, Camarillo, Calif. (148), 1 up
Princess Mary Superal, Philippines (142) def. Bethany Wu, Diamond Bar, Calif. (142), 19 holes
Marijosse Navarro, Mexico (136) def. Andrea Lee, Hermosa Beach, Calif. (143), 1 up
Shelly Shin, Australia (147) def. Binny Lee, Frisco, Texas (150), 19 holes
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Results from Friday afternoon’s semifinal round of match play at the 2014 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship, being conducted on the Meadow Course at the 6,718-yard, par-72 Forest Highlands Golf Club
Princess Mary Superal, Philippines (142) def. Cindy Ha, Demarest, N.J. (145), 2 up
Marijosse Navarro, Mexico (136) def. Shelly Shin, Australia (147), 21 holes
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Pairing for Saturday’s 36-hole championship round of match play at the 2014 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship, being conducted on the Meadow Course at the 6,718-yard, par-72 Forest Highlands Golf Club (MST):
7 a.m. –Princess Mary Superal, Philippines (142) vs.Marijosse Navarro, Mexico (136)