11 Aug 2022 | Amateur golf |

Bennett, Hinson-Tolchard into US Women's Amateur Round of 32

by Dane Heverin

Kelsey Bennett (left) and Maddison Hinson-Tolchard (right) are continuing their charge at the US Women's Amateur.
Kelsey Bennett (left) and Maddison Hinson-Tolchard (right) are continuing their charge at the US Women's Amateur.

A bridie blitz from Australians Kelsey Bennett and Maddison Hinson-Tolchard has booked their places in the Round of 32 at the US Women's Amateur at Chambers Bay in Washington.

Number four seed Bennett never trailed in her 3&1 win over China's Jieni Li, making five birdies in the process, while number nine seed Hinson-Tolchard carded six birdies of her own in her 2&1 victory against another Chinese golfer, Yixian Guo, on Wednesday.

Both Round of 64 contests were tight tussles, but the Australians - who compete at the World Amateur Teams Championships in Paris later this month under the captaincy of Karrie Webb - managed to break free at the right moment.

Bennett stayed patient and waited for that opportunity to arise as she and Li traded a birdie and five pars for the first six holes to remain deadlocked.

The Sydneysider took the lead with a birdie at the par-4 seventh, but Li responded immediately with a birdie of her own the level things up again.

The first slip up of the day from either player came when Li bogeyed the par-4 10th to give Bennett the lead back and she never relinquished it from then on.

It was not smooth sailing however, as both competitors birdied the 239-yard par-4 12th, but the St. Michael's member made it back-to-back birdies the very next hole and extended her lead to 2-up.

Her only bogey of the day - at the par-3 15th - left the door to a Li comeback slightly ajar, although Bennett slammed it shut with a par and a birdie to win the 16th and 17th holes.

“I’m really liking the course,” Bennett said. “The greens aren’t too tricky to read, and the course is a lot like Hunstanton, where I played British Amateur.

“I just played solid all day, where I miss-hit a shot, I got it back straight away, either with a good chip or a good putt."

Hinson-Tolchard's road to victory was a little more wild than her compatriot's.

The Oklahoma State University student was 1-down after a topsy-turvy front nine where pars for Guo won her the sixth and ninth holes to capture the lead after Hinson-Tolchard was 1-up through five.

The match reached another level after the turn with the West Australian birding five of the next eight holes to charge into the next round.

"I feel like the second nine was definitely a lot better than the first nine. I think I was 5-under or something on the back nine, which was crazy. I'm really happy with it. Ball-striking was there again, and yeah, it was a great match," Hinson-Tolchard said.

"I put it in real close (on the 17th). I put it to five foot, and she was left of the green and putted all the way down the front of the green again and missed it coming back. It was a conceded birdie in the end, but I birdied 10, 11 and 12, and then we halved birdies on 15. It was a really, really good match. I definitely expected a tough match but nothing like that. That was awesome."

Hinson-Tolchard's father, Craig, is on the bag for her this week and continuing to enjoy their time out on course together is going to be the key to success for the remainder of the tournament.

"(The plan is) the same, have fun. Dad and I have been having fun, so we're just going to go out and take it one shot at a time again and just enjoy it. I don't think we can really do anything different at this point," she said.

The Round of 32 matches, along with the Round of 16, will be played on Thursday (US time) with Hinson-Tolchard to take on American number 24 seed Annabelle Pancake and Bennett facing off with Japan's number 29 seed Nika Ito.

Scoring

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