Catherine O’Donnell of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., shot the low round of the day, a two-under-par 69 in the morning, then added a four-over-par 75 in the afternoon for a two-over par 69-75-144 to earn medalist honors at the U.S. Women’s Open Sectional Qualifying on Wednesday, May 21, at the 6,501-yard, par-71 Rumson Country Club.
Laura Davies, 50, of Lyne England, a two-time LPGA Championship winner and former U.S. Women’s Open champion in 1987, claimed the other qualifying spot at five-over 72-75-147.
The two alternates were 16-year-old Isabella Dilisio of Hatfield, Pa., at 75-73-148 and Elizabeth Caron of Stamford, Conn., at 72-76-48. The event was administered by the NJSGA. The first alternate spot went to Dilisio, who has committed to Notre Dame. She bested Caron on the eighth playoff hole.
Rumson served as one of 20 U.S. Women's Open sectional qualifying sites, with players attempting to qualify for a spot at Pinehurst No. 2 this summer.
Twenty-four sectional qualifying sites, including 20 in the U.S. and four abroad, are taking place between May 5 and May 30.
The U.S. Women's Open will be held June 19-22.
“I got my putter rolling, that and my wrist injury has healed,” said O’Donnell, 24, who graduated from the University of North Carolina in 2013 where she twice made All-American. O’Donnell has played in three U.S. Amateurs, making the cut in 2007 when she was 17. She is playing in her second year on the Symetra Tour.
“I had a practice round here on Tuesday and I loved the course. I loved the greens. I could see the lines and I was comfortable off the tee,” she said. “And I like tougher courses with longer par fours.”
O’Donnell birdied three of her final holes in the morning round to post the 69. She fired a three-under 31 on the back nine.
“On that back nine, I had two good par saves that set me up for that birdie run. Coming into the final 18 holes, I just wanted to stay aggressive and keep doing what I was doing,” O’Donnell said. “I’m excited about the U.S. Open. I’ve played Pinehurst No. 2 probably 30 times . I know it well and can’t wait to play it again.”
Davies struggled to earn the qualifying berth, bogeying three of her final four holes.
“I never in a million years thought plus five would get me in. I thought it would be plus two. I didn’t really putt well. In the afternoon I missed four short putts and that’s usually my strength,” Davies said.
The field of 57 golfers included the well-known Davies, who has 84 pro victories to her credit and is still a member of the LPGA Tour. She will be competing this weekend in the Airbus LPGA Classic in Mobile, Ala.
“I couldn’t be so pleased as to be going to Pinehurst where the Open is back-to-back with the men. I’ll be seeing a lot of old friends,” said Davies, whose best finish this year on the LPGA Tour was 14th in Phoenix .
“I know I’m closer to the end of my career than the beginning, but I feel I can win again. The way I hit the ball, I will still have my chances. I just love competing. Even today, when I was plus four, I wanted to be plus three. I enjoyed playing here today.”
On Monday, Lucy Li, a sixth grader from Redwood Shores, Calif., became the youngest ever to qualify for the event.