By John Brasier
Mebane’s Emily Mathews, one of four Triad players in the field at the U.S. Girls’ Junior championship, will get a quick look at how her game stacks up in the qualifying rounds Monday and Tuesday for stroke play at the U.S. Air Force Academy Eisenhower Golf Club Blue Course in Colorado Springs.
Mathews is paired with defending champion Yana Wilson of Henderson, Nevada, in an 8:17 a.m. MDT tee time Monday off the No. 10 tee. They will also play together Tuesday afternoon.
Former Reagan High players Macy Pate and Anna Howerton and Greensboro’s Ellen Yu also qualified for the tournament, which begins with two rounds of stroke play, the top 64 qualifying for match play.
On Monday, Pate also begins on the 10th tee at 9:12 a.m. Yu begins on No. 1 at 1:32 p.m. Howerton starts at 1:54 on No. 10. The par-72 course will measure 6,788 yards. The altitude in Colorado Springs reaches more than 6,000 feet.
The tournament will be the final major junior for Pate, Howerton and Mathews, who have each signed college scholarships. In the fall, Pate will play for Wake Forest, Howerton for High Point and Mathews for Virginia Tech.
Katherine Brictson of Raleigh and Ella June Hannant, a 13-year-old from Pikeville, are also in the field for the Girls’ Junior.
The semifinals and finals of the tournament will be aired on Peacock and Golf Channel.
Past champions include women’s golf greats such as Mickey Wright, JoAnne Carner, Nancy Lopez, Hollis Stacy, Amy Alcott, Heather Farr, Pat Hurst, Michelle McGann, Brandie Burton, Inbee Park, Lexi Thompson, Minjee Lee and Rose Zhang.
Wilson beat Gianna Clemente of Estero, Florida – also in the field – in last year’s championship match at The Club at Olde Stone in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
A record 1,677 players entered qualifying sites throughout the country with 38 internationals qualifying.