U.S. Women's Amateur at Nassau CC down to semifinals

Alison Lee tees off at the first hole
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Alison Lee tees off at the first hole on Friday, August 8, 2014. US women's amateur tournament at the Nassau Country Club in Glen Cove.

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As the U.S. Women's Amateur golf championship boils down to today's semifinals, the average age of competitors has dropped from 19.45 years old, in the original field of 156, to 15.7.

Among Friday's departures from the Nassau Country Club event were the three oldest quarterfinalists among the eight -- 21-year-old Grace Na of Alameda, California; 19-year-old Alison Lee of Valencia, California; and 18-year-old Su-Hyun Oh of Australia.

Lee's ouster meant the tournament, which had seven (unrelated) Lees at the outset on Monday, is now down to one -- 15-year-old Andrea Lee of Hermosa Beach, California, a 2-and-1 winner over Eunjeong Seong of Korea.

Also, from 15 countries and 30 states represented, now only Arizona, California, Texas and Canada have flag-bearers.

Along the way, some of the principals assumed different roles. Bethany Wu, a 17-year-old Californian, went from the leading scorer through two rounds of stroke play to caddying for 16-year-old Texan Kristen Gillman, who rallied from a four-hole deficit at No. 12 to win on the second extra hole against Oh.

Gillman and Wu were teammates during last month's Wyndham Cup, a Ryder Cup-style event staged by the American Junior Golf Association, and they will be teammates at next month's Junior Ryder Cup in Scotland.

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Hannah O'Sullivan, 16, from Paradise Valley, Arizona, steadily pulled away from Na to win, 5 and 4. An O'Sullivan bogey on No. 2 gave Na a brief lead, but Na never won another hole, her four consecutive bogeys starting at No. 4 sending O'Sullivan to the semifinals.

"I just told myself to stay patient," said O'Sullivan, wearing the Southern California shirt of the college team she will join this fall. "Basically, I told myself, 'I can't lose. I just can't lose,' so I kept pushing and stayed even keel."

In a duel between the world's second- and third -ranked amateurs, 16-year-old Canadian Brooke Mackenzie Henderson prevailed over Alison Lee, 1-up. Henderson twice took a 2-hole edge, which disappeared both times.

"It was nice to finally play Alison," Henderson said. "But it was a tough match from the get-go. A lot of back and forth."

(The world's No. 1 ranked amateur, Australia's Minjee Lee, withdrew from the field without explanation before the tournament.)

In Saturday's semifinals, which begin at 10 a.m., O'Sullivan will play Henderson and Gillman will duel with Andrea Lee, who made the cut in this year's U.S. Women's Open.

As an example of these players' athleticism, consider O'Sullivan's sports background: "Soccer, figure skating, gymnastics, softball, swimming, tennis," she said. "And I did dance. Everything."

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