CLEVELAND -- Golf is a cruel game. This morning's second round of match play at the U.S. Women's Amateur was full of constant reminders that the game of golf, like any sport for that matter, is often heartbreaking. Many of the players this week have played alongside each other in one of several team tournaments that amateur and collegiate golf offer, providing a bittersweet taste for both the winners and losers this week.
Take the Amy Anderson-Lydia Ko match for example. Yesterday, Amy knocked off Moriya Jutanugarn, last year's runner-up and a favorite this week, by winning the 17th and 18th holes with a par and a birdie, respectively. Today, Amy's luck ran out. The 2009 Girls' Junior champ and a member of this year's Curtis Cup team made five birdies and only one bogey en route to a 3 and 2 loss to the world's top-ranked female amateur, Lydia Ko. Ko was seven under through 16 holes today, and didn't make a bogey despite intermittent rain showers. The match had four lead changes, with neither player holding more than a one-up lead until the final holes.
Top-seeded Hyo-Joo Kim, who had made 16 birdies in 48 holes prior to today's play, seemed to have met her match in Isabelle Lendl this morning. That was until Kim's putter heated up on the back nine. Lendl still had opportunities down the stretch after a few wayward drives cost Kim chances at birdie, but Lendl was unable to convert makeable birdie putts on 16 and 17, eventually losing 2 and 1 to the medalist.
"I didn't play bad today," said Lendl, who handled the defeat with class. "I think I was only one over [par] for the week. Sometimes in match play that's just the luck of the draw." Isabelle had her older sister and Florida teammate, Marika, on the bag, while their father and tennis great, Ivan Lendl, closely followed the match from behind the ropes.
Sometimes even par just isn't good enough, especially in match play on a course recently softened by morning thundershowers after three days of firm, fast play. One player said to her caddy after the round, "We fixed more ball marks today than the past three [days]." With more thunderstorms in the forecast for the weekend, the course will stay soft and likely produce many more red numbers.
With the exception of a few, the matches are getting closer at the Women's Amateur, meaning more heartbroken, teary-eyed faces walking off the 18th green. Only 16 players currently remain, and by the end of the day the quarterfinalists will be set.