Jalayne Martinez (#4 seed) from Pasco, WA and Kelly Hooper (#11 seed) from Spokane, WA are set to square off on Thursday in the Championship Match of the 60th Pacific Northwest Junior Girls’ Amateur Championship.
Martinez made quick work of her quarterfinal match this morning with a 6&4 win over Danica Palm (#5 seed) from Richland, WA. Martinez made two birdies and four pars in her opening 6 holes to take a commanding 5-up lead and she wouldn’t look back as she maintained at least a 4-up margin for the rest of the match.
This afternoon, Martinez faced a tough matchup against Medalist, Ashley Fitzgibbons (#1 seed) from Sammamish, WA in the semifinals. Riding the confidence from the morning’s match, Martinez went about business making two birdies and ten pars in the opening 12 holes taking a 4-up lead before finally losing a hole to Fitzgibbons on the par-3 13th hole. After trading pars on holes 14 and 15, Fitzgibbons stayed alive by winning the 16th hole with a par but it wasn’t enough as both players made bogey on the difficult par-4 17th hole and the match ended 2&1 in favor of Martinez.
Hooper had a pair of tough draws today but handled them both with no problems as she punched her ticket to the finals. In the quarterfinals she faced Grace Frazier (#3 seed) from Clarkston, WA and after taking the early deficit by losing the par-4 second hole to a Frazier birdie, Hooper went on a major run winning holes #3, 4, 6, 7, 11 and 14 to close out a 5&4 victory.
In the semifinals Hooper faced Serena Lee (#2 seed) from Auburn, WA in what would prove to be a difficult, back-and-forth match. The match would go all 18 holes with 13 of them being won opposed to only 5 holes that were squared. Hooper took an early 3-up lead by winning holes #1, 2, and 3 and would then trade birdies at holes #4 and 5 to keep that margin before picking up a 4-up lead after the seventh hole but Lee bounced back winning holes #8 and 9 to make the turn with Hooper only 2-up. Lee got the match back to all square after winning holes #11 and 12 but Hooper would again take the 1-up lead after winning hole #13 with a bogey. The players halved holes #14 and 15 before Lee once again squared up the match by birdying the short 242-yard par-4 16th hole. Both players bogeyed the difficult par-4 17th hole and then Hooper would make the last statement with a brilliant par at the 18th hole to win the match, 1-up.
The championship is conducted by the Pacific Northwest Golf Association (PNGA).
The rich history of the PNGA Junior Girls’ Amateur Championship has included past champions Jo Ann Washam, Peggy Conley, Joan Edwards-Powell, Mary Budke, and JoAnne Gunderson Carner, all of whom would later be inducted into the PNGA Hall of Fame after storied amateur and professional careers. Other past champions include current LPGA Tour players Paige Mackenzie and Jimin Kang.
To be eligible for the Pacific Northwest Junior Girls’ Amateur Championship, contestants must not have reached their 18th birthday by the final day of the competition. This is one of 16 regional championships conducted annually by the PNGA.