Ciera Min, usually strong with her driver, struggled with her best club on Thursday at the 37th annual U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship.
The recent Waiakea graduate’s driver refused to shoot straight, and she fell to Gonzaga teammate Raychelle Santos 4 and 3 in the match play round of 32 at the Jimmie Austin Oklahoma University Golf Club in Norman, Okla.
“I struggled a bit with my game. It was not solid like Wednesday,” Min said. “Raychelle played awesome. Her short game was good. Normally, driver is the straightest club in my bag, but not today. I struggled and put myself into bad positions. I was not giving myself good opportunities to score.”
The two Bulldogs were all square through three holes. Then on the par-4 fourth, Santos went 1 up with a par while Min made bogey, one of five on the day.
Santos won the 10th and 11th holes with par while Min’s two bogeys expanded her friendly opponent’s lead to 3 up. On the 13th hole, Santos birdied and Min bogeyed. The cushion bumped to 4 up.
On the 14th, they matched each other, turning the last four holes into a must-win for Min, who managed par on the 15th. Santos shot a par 3, too, ending the match with three holes left.
Santos also won in the round of 16 and advanced to the quarterfinals today against Cindy Ha, a New Jersey high school junior.
Last year, Min played in the U.S. Girls Junior Amateur and didn’t make the cut. In 2011 at the WAPL, she made the cut and fell to UCLA’s Tiffany Lua, ranked No. 2 in the NCAA, in the first day of match play. Min took down No. 1 seed and defending NCAA champion Annie Park in the first round of match play on Wednesday.
“I didn’t have the best draw, but it was a good experience all those years and it turned out well,” Min said. “I learned a lot, obviously with Annie and how she plays. My experience with Raychelle showed me what Gonzaga has in their program and what I have to do to bring and help the team.”
It’s the second-to-last year of the WAPL. The USGA will retire the WAPL and the APL, which will be held July 15-20 in Virginia, after the 2014 season. Hilo’s Chris Igawa and Dalen Yamauchi will represent the Hilo section.
“I’ll definitely play in it next year,” said Min, who was joined at the WAPL with Hilo’s Nani Yanagi, a Washington State upcoming sophomore.