__BARRINGTON, R.I.—With a 3-and-2 victory Thursday afternoon over__Lee Lopez,Austin Ernst secured a spot into the quarterfinals of the U.S. Women's Amateur. The question is, did she also secure a spot on the 2012 U.S. Curtis Cup?
American captain Pat Cornett has been on hand this week at Rhode Island CC, getting a personal look. While the matches at Scotland's Nairn GC are still more than nine months away, the U.S. Women's Amateur is actually one of the last significant national events prior to the selection of the eight-women squad early next year.
"It's getting close pretty quick," joked Cornett.
Ernst named surfaced among the potential team members when she closed out her freshman season at LSU last May by winning the NCAA individual title. She then spent this past summer back in Baton Rouge taking classes, skipping the competitive amateur season. Returning to competition this week, however, Ernst has show little signs of rust, cruising through her opening three matches as she prepared to play UCLA All-American (and 2010 Curtis Cupper) Stephanie Kono in Friday's quarterfinal.
"I'm trying not to think of results," Ernst said Thursday. "If I take care of what I need to take care of, then Curtis Cup will take care of itself. I feel like i just take care of business this week. But it's definitely, definitely something I really want to do."
Ernst says that the key this week has been confidence with her putter.
"I didn't get to practice putting all that much [in Baton Rouge]," Ernst said. "And when I went back home, my dad said I was a little too far away from the ball. So I've gotten just a little closer and my putter has been solid ever since I got here."
Another benefit this week for Ernst has been having Arkansas sophomore Emily Tubert caddie for her since the start of match play. Tubert, the 2010 U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links champ, competed in the stroke-place qualifying but failed to advance to the final 64. Already planning to stay in Rhode Island for the week, she agreed to help out her friend from junior golf when Ernst asked if she might be interested in looping.
"Austin is a hoot," said Tubert. "Put us together and we're dangerous."