Final 8 for Coloradan

Loveland’s Lauren Lehigh still hasn’t trailed in a match as she advances to quarterfinals of U.S. Women’s Am; fellow Coloradan Leigha Devine falls in round of 32

By Gary Baines – 8/11/2022

Lauren Lehigh is going where no Colorado resident has gone in the last two decades at the U.S. Women’s Amateur.

The golfer from Loveland and Harmony Club won twice on Thursday at Chambers Bay in Washington — once over a 13-year-old and once against a 14-year-old — to land a berth in the quarterfinals of arguably the world’s top women’s amateur golf championship. 

Archives for the event on the USGA website go back through 2002, and Lehigh is the first Coloradan in that time to make the final eight at the Women’s Amateur. Jennifer Kupcho, now a standout on the LPGA Tour, went to the round of 16 in 2015.

Lehigh, a two-time state high school individual champion in Colorado, routed 13-year-old Anna Feng of San Diego, 6 and 5, in the round of 32 of the 122nd Women’s Am. Then in the round of 16, she geared up on the back nine and defeated 14-year-old Mia Hammond of New Albany, Ohio, 4 and 3.

That means the Coloradan will face 17-year-old Saki Baba of Japan — who finished 49th in this year’s U.S. Women’s Open — in Thursday’s quarterfinals, which will be televised by the Golf Channel beginning at 5 p.m. (MT). The Lehigh-Baba match is scheduled to begin at 3:50 p.m. (MT). The semifinals are set for Saturday and the finals for Sunday.

Lauren Lehigh was all smiles after her round-of-16 victory on Thursday.

Amazingly enough, Lehigh has never trailed in any of her first three matches this week at Chambers Bay, where she finished 11th in April in a college tournament for her University of New Mexico team. 

“I don’t think I would have done this well without playing out here earlier,” Lehigh told Golf Channel post-round. “There’s so many little nuances to this course. My caddie has helped out a lot, but it was definitely a big advantage getting to play here back in April.”

On Thursday afternoon, Lehigh was tied with Hammond through nine holes. But the Coloradan won 10, 11 and 12 — going par-par-birdie — to take command. She went on to win the 14th with a par and closed out the match on the 15th hole with a 4-foot par, good for a halve there. Lehigh finished 1 under par for the round-of-16 match.

In the round of 32, Lehigh was 2 under for 13 holes in her rout of Feng.

By making the quarterfinals, Lehigh earned a spot into the 2023 U.S. Women’s Amateur — assuming she remains an amateur at that point. Next year’s Women’s Am is set for Aug. 7-13 at Bel-Air Country Club in Los Angeles.

Lehigh is in the running to become the third at-the-time Colorado resident to win the U.S. Women’s Amateur. Jill McGill took home the title in 1993 and finished second in ’94. Barbara McIntire prevailed in 1964 and also won in 1959 while a Florida resident. And Babe Didrikson Zaharias claimed the trophy in 1946.

Meanwhile, a second Coloradan who made the round of 32 saw her run end on Thursday as three-time CGA women’s major champion Leigha Devine of Windsor fell to Ohio State golfer Aneka Seumanutafa of Emmitsburg, Md., 3 and 2. A day after never trailing in her round-of-64 match, Devine never led on Thursday. The Rutgers golfer birdied the 13th hole to cut her deficit to 1 down, but Seumanutafa won 14 with a birdie and 16 with a par to close things out. Devine was 4 over par through 16 holes against Seumanutafa, who beat defending champion Jensen Castle in the round of 64.

For all the scoring from the U.S. Women’s Amateur, CLICK HERE.