Sports

Stanford soph reaches title match of U.S. Women's Amateur

 

Stanford sophomore Albane Valenzuela is making the most of her first appearance in the U.S. Women's Amateur.

On Saturday, the Geneva, Switzerland resident defeated Lilia Kha-Tu Vu from Fountain Valley, California, 3 and 2, to reach Sunday's 36-hole final at San Diego Country Club.

Valenzuela, 19, will face 21-year-old Sophia Schubert of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, a senior at Texas, for the title. Schubert downed Chia Yen Wu of Chinese Taipei, 2-up.

The title match begins at 7 a.m. PT.

Valenzuela is seeking to become the third Stanford women's golfer to capture the crown. Joanne Pacillo won it in 1983, preceded by Anne Quast Sander in 1958, 1961 and 1963.

"I'm really excited," said Valenzuela, a PING/WGCA Second Team All-American in 2016-17 and No. 3 in the Women's World Amateur Ranking. "It was getting closer every day, and I'm finally there, so I'm really proud of myself."

Valenzuela, with younger brother Alexis on the bag, overcame an early 1-down deficit against Vu, a rising junior at UCLA and winner of the 2016-17 Pac-12 Championship. Both opened with four-straight pars before Valenzuela lost the fifth to a par. They halved the next four holes.

The match turned at No. 10, which Valenzuela won with a par. She went 1-up with a birdie at the par-3 11th, then claimed No. 12 with a par and never looked back. Valenzuela sealed the victory with a birdie at the par-5 16th and finished 2-under for the day.

"I just stayed patient," she said. "I'm really happy with my attitude on the course. I just kept fighting and didn't give up."

Last week, Valenzuela was runner-up at the European Ladies Championship in Switzerland.

By advancing to the finals, Valenzuela receives an exemption into the 2018 U.S. Women's Open at Shoal Creek in Birmingham, Alabama. Sunday's winner receives a 10-year U.S. Women's Amateur exemption, a gold medal, and the Robert Cox Trophy for one year.

The championship match will be televised on Fox Sports 1 from 1-4 p.m. PT. Bonus coverage will also be shown on usga.org from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. PT.

Valenzuela will attempt to become the first player from Switzerland to win a USGA championship.

— Mark Soltau/Stanford Athletics

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