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Quarterfinalists Set at WAPL


For the second consecutive year, Doris Chen and Lauren Diaz-Yi faced each other in the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship. In 2013 in Oklahoma, Diaz-Yi took home the victory and the trophy. But this year, despite the trophy not being on the line, Chen at least earned the win.

Chen, 21, of Bradenton, Fla., avenged last year's WAPL defeat at Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club in Norman with a commanding 6-and-4 win in the round of 16 over Diaz-Yi, 19, of Thousand Oaks, Calif., at the Home Course in Dupont, Wash.

"I thought it was fun that I got to play with Lauren again," said Chen, winner of the 2013 NCAA individual championship for USC. "We played some good golf out there."

Chen's birdie at the par-3 third gave her a lead she never relinquished. Consecutive birdies at Nos. 5 and 6 built her lead to 3-up, and three straight wins at from the ninth through the 11th sealed the victory.

"Her putting was phenomenal," admired Diaz-Yi, a sophomore at the University of Virginia. "She was draining everything. I just couldn't drop any putts. My ball-striking was good, but my putts weren't going in."

Diaz-Yi won in 2013 with a commanding 10-and-9 victory over Chen. Later that summer, Chen evened the score with a 4-and-3 quarterfinal victory over Diaz-Yi at the U.S. Women's Amateur at the Country Club of Charleston (S.C.).

Chen said the experience at last year's WAPL defeat was, ultimately, beneficial. "Last year, I worked too hard," said Chen. "I didn't take care of myself well. I was thinking too much and doubting too much. I've been working on that."

Chen is hoping to reach her third USGA championship final and second in the past year. In addition to her runner-up finish at the 2013 WAPL, Chen won the 2010 U.S. Girls' Junior. Should she make the final, Chen would become the eighth player to do so in consecutive years and the first since Jennifer Song in 2009.

Chen wasn't the only USGA champion to reach the quarterfinals. Reigning U.S. Girls' Junior champion Gabriella Then, 18, of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., notched two victories Thursday to also advance.

"I feel like I played much better today in the afternoon match," said Then of her 2-and-1 win over Stani Schiavone, 22, a resident of Bangor, Pa. "I hit more fairways and I definitely had better distance control in the afternoon, which helped with birdie opportunities."

On Friday, Then will face Alana Uriell, 17, of Carlsbad, Calif., who scored a 1-up victory over Robynn Ree, 17, of Redondo Beach, Calif. Uriell, an incoming freshman at the University of Arkansas, was 3-down to Ree through 11 holes, but won holes 13 through 15 to square the match.

Then hopes to join Lori Castillo as the only players to win the Women's Amateur Public Links and Girls' Junior in consecutive years. Castillo won the 1978 Girls' Junior, followed by the 1979 and 1980 Women's Amateur Public Links.

Medalist Eun Jeong Seong, a 14-year-old from South Korea, also recorded two victories Thursday. In the morning she eliminated Grace Na, 21, of Alameda, Calif., and forged a 3-and-1, round-of-16 win over Eimi Koga, 18, of Honolulu. In each of her three matches Seong has overcome early deficits.

In a round-of-32 battle of past USGA teammates, Cindy Ha, 17, of Demarest, N.J., defeated Alice Chen, 18, of Princeton, N.J., 2 and 1. Chen and Ha were members of New Jersey's winning team at the 2013 USGA Women's State Team Championship. Ha reached the quarterfinals with a resounding 6-and-5 win over Jennifer Yang, 20, of the Republic of Korea.

Sirene Blair, 19, of South Jordan, Utah; Dominique Galloway, 16, of Rio Rancho, N.M.; and Fumie (Alice) Jo, 15, of the People's Republic of China, are also WAPL quarterfinalists.

Local favorite Katie Lee's tournament ended Thursday morning when she fell 3 and 1 to Schiavone. Lee, 17, of neary Silverdale, Wash., upset 2014 USA Curtis Cup Team member Annie Park in Wednesday's first round.

The above report is courtesy of the USGA. For Friday's pairings and all the scores, visit www.usga.org.