Katie Li, 13, Advances To Women's Amateur Semifinals
Katie Li, an eight-grader from Basking Ridge, pulled off the upset of the day when she ousted No. 2 seed Yeji Shin of Valley Brook Golf Course, 1 up, to advance to the semifinals of match play in the New Jersey State Golf Association’s 93rd Women’s Amateur Championship at the par-73, 5,945-yard Essex County Country Club in West Orange.
Li, 13, who plays out of the New Jersey National Golf Club in Basking Ridge, had a strong finish to oust Shin, a rising junior on the golf team at TCU. Shin, to be fair, was nursing a strained back.
“I just tried to stay calm out there. My father, Sean, who caddied for me, helped me to stay calm even when I was down,” said Li, who attends William Annin Middle School in Basking Ridge.
Li trailed or was all square with Shin until the par-3 No. 15, when she drained a 25-foot right-to-left birdie putt to get even in the match. “I just rammed it in,” she said.
On the next hole, the par-4 No. 16, she won with a par to go 1 up for the first time. The match ended when the players halved the par-5 No. 18.
“I’m excited to play tomorrow. I want to see what happens,” said Li, who will face Christina Parsells of Baltusrol Golf Club, a rising senior at Georgetown University. Parsells defeated Mid-Amateur champion Samantha Perrotta of Old York Country Club. Parsells, a resident of Bernardsville, led the entire match.
"I'm hitting my irons a lot better and my driver is more consistent. The key for me is hitting the greens. I did that in both matches today," said Parsells, who closed out her match vs. Perrotta with a par victory on No. 16 and a birdie triumph on No. 17
Playing only 27 holes over two matches, Kelly Sim of Alpine Country club knows what she has to do to repeat as champion.
“I know I’m going to meet some really good players tomorrow, so I want to keep doing what I’m doing. I’m trying not to get upset over some bad shots. It’s good for me to not show emotion to my opponent,” said Sim, who defeated Allison Herring of TPC Jasna Polana, 5 and 3, in the quarterfinal round after besting Marissa Broderick of Shackamaxon Country Club, 8 and 6, in the earlier Round of 16.
A 45-minute rain delay interrupted the quarterfinal matches.
The NJSGA 93rdWomen’s Amateur will crown a champion following Thursday’s semifinals and final match.
Sim, 18, a resident of Edgewater who will play golf at Northwestern University, will face Haley Bookholdt of Old York Country Club who ousted Megan McLean of Fiddler’s Elbow Country Club, 3 and 2, in the morning semifinal. Bookholdt, 19, is a rising sophomore golfer at Elon University while McLean, 20 is a junior on the golf team at Penn State.
Sim enjoyed a back nine to remember against Herring. Leading, 1 up, through nine holes, she won holes 10, 11 and 12 with pars to go 4 up. Herring birdied the par-5 No. 13, but Sim managed a half by sinking an 18-foot birdie putt. Her six-foot birdie putt on the par-4 No. 14 earned another half. The match ended when Sim drained a 70-foot uphill right-to-left breaking putt for a third straight birdie.
“This week, my wedges have been good, which is usually not my strength. I think I have a good feel right now,” said Sim, who this May claimed a record-tying third NJSIAA Girls Golf Championship. “My ball striking with my irons is my strength. I usually leave myself a good chance for birdie with my approach shots.”
Bookholdt registered an eagle and three birdies in her victory over McLean. The match ended when Bookholdt’s pitching wedge from 109 yards into the wind landed six-inches from the cup for a kick-in birdie.
“I’m really looking forward to playing Kelly Sim tomorrow. She’s a great player. It will be the ultimate test for me. It will be about who can get up and down tomorrow,” said Bookholdt, a resident of Columbus. “I feel really good about my game right now. My ball striking has improved. My driver and irons all feel solid. This course is good for me. I can hit it long off the tee and wedge to the greens.”