Golf

Murrells Inlet’s Knaffle defeats highly-ranked player at U.S. Girls’ Junior

Smith Knaffle of Murrells Inlet hits her second shot at the 10th hole during the second round of stroke play Tuesday at the 2017 U.S. Girls' Junior Championship at Boone Valley Golf Club in Augusta, Mo.
Smith Knaffle of Murrells Inlet hits her second shot at the 10th hole during the second round of stroke play Tuesday at the 2017 U.S. Girls' Junior Championship at Boone Valley Golf Club in Augusta, Mo. USGA Museum

Smith Knaffle of Murrells Inlet advanced to the second round of match play Wednesday at the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship at the 6,311-yard Boone Valley Golf Club in Augusta, Mo.

Knaffle, 16, a rising junior at St. James High and South Carolina commitment, defeated Angelina ‘Lei’ Ye of the People’s Republic of China 2 and 1 in her opening match Wednesday, and will face Annick Haczkiewicz of Las Vegas in the round of 32 at 8:18 a.m. (EST) Thursday. The round of 16 will follow Thursday afternoon.

Both players made pars on the first seven holes and Knaffle took a 2 up lead with consecutive birdies on holes 8 and 9. Ye birdied the 10th to pull within one, Knaffle won the 13th with a par, double bogeyed the 14th and won the 15th with a par to regain her 2 up lead, then closed out the match with pars on holes 16 and 17.

Knaffle tied for 21st in the stroke play portion of the tournament on Monday and Tuesday with a 4-over 71-75–146 to be among the 64 players who advanced to match play.

Ye is ranked 13th in the Junior Golf Scoreboard rankings and qualified for match play with a 6-over 148.

Knaffle is ranked 248th by Junior Golf Scoreboard, though she plays predominantly in the Carolinas while a lot of players ranked ahead of her play more regional, national and even international schedules.

Haczkiewicz is ranked 149th by Junior Golf Scoreboard, shot 150 in stroke play and defeated Rachel Kuehn of Asheville, N.C., in 19 holes Wednesday.

Knaffle missed the cut last Wednesday by two strokes in the 42nd Girls Junior PGA Championship at the Country Club of St. Albans in Missouri after shooting an 8-over 76-76–152 in the opening two rounds. It was her second consecutive start in the PGA of America event.

She is playing in her first U.S. Girls’ Junior, which is run by the United States Golf Association.

The tournament is scheduled to conclude with Saturday’s 36-hole championship match, with quarterfinal and semifinal matches on Friday.

Alan Blondin: 843-626-0284, @alanblondin

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