Teenagers Lydia Ko and Jaye Marie Green advanced to the 36-hole final in the U.S. Women’s Amateur, winning semifinal matches in wet and windy conditions Saturday at The Country Club in Cleveland.
The 15-year-old Ko, the South Korean-born New Zealander who tops the world amateur rankings, beat Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn, 3 and 1.
“Getting to the final feels really good,” Ko said. “My putts were rolling today, which really helps the confidence. This is amazing to beat such a great player.”
The 18-year-old Green, from Boca Raton, Fla., edged Canada’s Nicole Zhang, 2-up.
“Just knowing I’m still in the running to be the United States champion gives me the chills,” Green said.
At 15 years, 3 months, 18 days, Ko is the second-youngest finalist in Women’s Amateur history, and could become the second-youngest champion. Both records are held by Kimberly Kim, who was 14 years, 11 months, 21 days when she won the 2006 tournament. Ko won the New South Wales Open in January in Australia at 14 to become the youngest player to win a professional tour event.
Ko chipped in from 45 feet on the 15th for a birdie to halve the hole. At the 450-yard, par-5 16th, Ko hit the green in two shots and two-putted for another birdie to again go 2 up.
The deciding birdie came at the 17th, where Jutanugarn conceded Ko’s birdie putt.
For the lead groups, today’s final round of the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic will be just like a friendly round back home in South Korea.
Oh, and give the winner a check for $195,000.
South Koreans Jiyai Shin, Kim, So Yeon Ryu and Hee Kyung Seo dominated the leaderboard, sharing the top spot at 11-under 202 through the third round in Sylvania, Ohio.
Two more South Koreans, Inbee Park (69) and second-round leader Chella Choi (70), were a shot back along with Japan’s Mika Miyazato (69).
Call them the Seoul sisters.
“It will be really exciting Sunday,” said Kim, who will be chasing her fourth career LPGA Tour victory. “These are players that I grew up with. I know them personally and I know their family issues and all that. So, even though we’re playing in the U.S., having them around I feel much more at home.”