July 17, 2007
VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C. - For the third straight year, former Gonzaga University golfer Mary Kate Morgan is participating in the North & South Women's Amateur Championship at famed Pinehurst.
Morgan, who graduated from Gonzaga in May and is playing out of her hometown of Longview, Wash., began stroke play Monday in the 105th event shooting a 36-39 for a 75 at Pinehurst No. 8, a 6,253-yard, par 72 course. That had her in a logjam for 23rd. Morgan advanced to the first round of match play last year after failing the make the cut her first year in the event.
The field of 154 will continue stroke play Tuesday for the right to advance to Wednesday's start of match play. The top 63 finishers qualify for match play, with the defending champion receiving the 64th spot. Participants for the event were selected by invitation, the field determined based upon a potential contestant's playing reputation as well as performance in national amateur championships and overall competitive record. The maximum field is 156 contestants.
Among the contestants are the top three amateurs in the country as well as 10 of the top 30. Top amateur Stacy Lewis of The Woodlands, Texas, fired a first round even-par 72 to sit tied for eighth. Second-ranked amateur Jennie Lee of Henderson, Nev., struggled somewhat to a first round 76 and goes into the second round tied for 39th.
Candace Schepperle of Birmingham, Ala., and also second-ranked amateur, had the round of the day with a 4-under par 68. Schepperle is not without contenders as nine others players were able to negotiate the daunting Pinehurst No. 8 at even par or better. Taylore Karle of Scottsdale, Ariz., Cydney Clanton of Concord, N.C. and Alison Walshe of Westford, Mass. all put together 2-under par rounds of 70. Three off the lead at 1-under par 71 are Blair Lamb of Flat Rock, N.C., Katie Kempter of Albuquerque, N.M. and Kristen Simson of Norfolk, Va. Rounding out the top-10 at even par are Maggie Simons of Raleigh, N.C. and Erica Still of Waycross, Ga.
Also in the field is Amanda Blumenherst of Scottsdale, Ariz., the nation's top collegiate player and one of four national champion Duke University team members competing. Blumenherst struggled with the putter somewhat and finished just outside the top-10 at 1-over par 73. Blumenherst is tied for 11th with seven other players.
The remainder of the Championship will be contested on the famed Pinehurst No. 2.