Stanford star Rachel Heck advances in US Women’s Amateur

Aug 5, 2021, 5:06 AM | Updated: 5:08 pm

HARRISON, N.Y. (AP) — NCAA champion Rachel Heck of Stanford rallied to beat Arkansas’ Brooke Matthews in 19 holes Thursday to advance to the U.S. Women’s Amateur quarterfinals.

Heck, from Memphis, Tennessee, overcame a two-hole deficit with two to play at Westchester Country Club. She won the par-4 17th with a par, pulled even with a 15-foot birdie putt on the par-5 18th and won with a two-putt par on the par-3 19th.

“I think that’s what this tournament is all about,” Heck said. “You expect to have these kinds of matches. Really high pressure. My hands are shaking, my heart is beating so fast, but that’s what’s fun about it.”

In May, Heck capped her freshman year at Stanford with the NCAA individual title — her sixth victory of the season. No. 2 in the women’s world amateur ranking, she trying to join former Georgia star Vicki Goetze (1992) as the only players to win NCAA Division I individual and U.S. Women’s Amateur titles in the same year.

Her father, Robert, is working as her caddie.

“I think it’s super important to stay mentally (strong), and I think my dad and I really did that today,” Heck said. “You know, never giving up. She would drain a long putt, (but) we’re still in it. We’re not going to get too down on ourselves.”

The Q-school bound Matthews, from Rogers, Arkansas, is coming off her junior season with the Razorbacks.

“I just learned that you have to fight,” Matthews said. “You can’t stop fighting. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing against. Anyone is beatable on the right day.”

Heck will face Kan Bunnabodee of Thailand, the Purdue player who had a 6-and-5 victory over Kailie Vongsaga of Diamond Bar, California. In the morning in the round of 32, Heck beat Grace Kim of Australia 7 and 6.

In the other lower-bracket quarterfinal, Jensen Castle of West Columbia, South Carolina, will play Emily Mahar of Australia.

Castle, who plays at Kentucky, beat Jenny Bae of Suwanee, Georgia, 4 and 2. Mahar, a rising senior at Virginia Tech, edged Rianne Mikhaela Malixi of the Philippines 1 up.

In the upper bracket, Valentina Rossi of Argentina will face Brooke Seay of San Diego, and 15-year-old Cara Heisterkamp of Westlake, Ohio, will play Hou Yu-Chiang of Taiwan.

Rossi outlasted Hailey Borja of Lake Forest, California, in 20 holes; Seay beat Katie Cranston of Canada 2 and 1; Heisterkamp routed Aline Krauter of Germany 7 and 5; and Hou topped Emma McMyler of San Antonio 3 and 2.

Rossi plays at Michigan State, Seay at Stanford and Hou at Arizona.

The quarterfinalists earned exemptions into the 2022 U.S. Women’s Amateur at Chambers Bay.

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