Alice Ziyi Zhao is unlike many 13 year olds.
Others are salvaging the final days of their summers, spending time at the pool or doing whatever to distract themselves of the impending return to school this fall. Zhao, however, is dominating one of the premier women’s amateur golf events in the world.
Zhao earned co-medalist honors at the 122nd U.S. Women’s Amateur at Chambers Bay in University Place, Washington. After 36 holes of stroke play, Zhao sat at 10-under 136, tied with Latanna Stone and Laney Frye. The trio will occupy the top three seeds when match play begins Wednesday with the round of 64.
Stone earned the first seed for match play after firing a 8-under 65, a new women’s competitive record at Chambers Bay.
“Just like yesterday, everything was working well,” Stone said. “I was hitting the ball great and putted really well. Putting kind of saved me a little bit today. But it’s just fairways and greens and keeping it simple. I’m really pumped for match play. I think I can play really aggressive – even more aggressive than I did in stroke play. Yeah, I’m excited.”
Zhao, who shot 6-under 67 in the opening round, was 4 under on Tuesday. Frye was consistent, shooting two rounds of 5-under 68.
Stone will be the top-seeded player in match play, with Zhao earning the second seed and Frye the third.
“I had a couple of mistakes, but otherwise I played pretty solid today,” Zhao, from China, said. “I think I missed two short birdie putts. I really like match play, so hopefully I can put together another couple good rounds.”
Defending champion Jensen Castle, who will be a senior at Kentucky, shot 4-under 69 in the second round to finish in a tie for 14th after stroke play. Rachel Heck, the top-ranked player in the field, finished tied for 46th at 2 over. Megha Ganne, an incoming freshman at Stanford, is in a tie for fourth at 7 under.
Stroke play isn’t quite over yet, however. There was an 8-for-4 playoff to determine the final match play spots that began on the par-4 10th hole. Jieni Li, Jennifer Rosenberg and Camryn Carreon all made par to qualify. Alice Hodge was eliminated with a double bogey, and Victoria Zheng, Julia Misemer, Emma Abramson and Anika Dy made bogey to move on to the second playoff hole.
Playing the par-3 17th, all but Abramson made par, and the playoff was suspended due to darkness. It will resume at 10:30 a.m. ET Wednesday with Zheng, Misemer and Dy playing the par-5 18th hole to determine who earns the final match play spot.