July 29, 2020 - A day after finishing second in the 66th NJSGA Junior Championship by one shot, 15-year-old Katie Li of Fiddler’s Elbow atoned for it by handling the first two rounds of match play in the 95th NJSGA Women’s Amateur Championship like a seasoned veteran.

The rising sophomore at Ridge High School defeated former Junior Girls’ champion Ami Gianchandani of Watchung Valley, 7 & 6, in the quarterfinal round, after a 2 & 1 victory over Emma Shen of Edgewood in the Round of 16, at the par 72, 5,908 yard Morris County Golf Club in Morristown.

Li returns for the semifinals Thursday morning at 7:42 a.m. against Eunice Kim of White Beeches. Kim defeated another former Junior Girls’ champion, Christine Shao of Neshanic Valley, 4 & 2, after earlier ousting Gio Kim of Darlington, 5 & 4.

In the other semifinal, set for 7:30 a.m., Yoona Kim of Edgewood plays against defending Junior Girls’ champion Grace Lu of Plainfield. Kim bested medalist and 2020 Junior Girls’ winner, Katherine Lu of Forsgate, 4 & 2, and Sydney Kuo of NJSGA eClub, 1 up. Lu ousted Sarah Shao of Neshanic Valley, 2 & 1, and Megan Meng of Royce Brook in 20 holes.

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“I was not bothered by losing the Junior Championship by one shot because I played so poorly on my back nine on Tuesday, with a double bogey and two bogeys, including No. 17,” said Li. “I was actually happy that Katherine (Lu) won because she’s a friend of mine.

“Winning the Women’s Amateur would mean more to me than the Junior Girls,” a satisfied Li stated.  

Li had an eagle in each of her first two rounds of stroke play. On Wednesday, four birdies on her first nine propelled her to victory against Gianchandani. She registered two birdies in the triumph over Shen.

“I went back to Fiddler’s Elbow after my round on Tuesday and worked on my bunker shots. They were so bad. I also hit my driver a bit. I didn’t want to make too many mistakes like I did in that round,” Li said.

Li has never won an NJSGA event, although in 2019 she won an AJGA event at Canonsburg, Pa., and a NJPGA Junior Girls Championship at Royce Brook.

“I looked at the brackets last night and I was afraid of matching up with Ami (Gianchandani) because she’s such a good player,” Li said of Gianchandani, a rising junior on the Yale University women’s team. “I got all the good breaks against her today. I made my birdies. My approach shots were closer. Everything was going my way,” Li said.

The semifinal and championship match are set for Thursday, July 30. Hole-by-hole scoring will be available at NJSGA.org, and updates throughout the day on the NJSGA’s social media platforms.

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