Rachel Kuehn (left) and Anika Varma of India at thee 120th US Women’s Amateur Championship. Pics: USGA/Chris Keane
August 4: Anika Varma became the first Indian to tee off at the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship. The 16-year-old who shifted base from India to US last year to further her golf career had a modest start with three-over 75 placing her Tied-55th after the first round. The top 64 after two rounds of stroke play will advance into the match play segment of the Championship at Rockville, Maryland.
Varma, coached by Noah Montgomery, who works with India’s leading star, Gaganjeet Bhullar, had two birdies, one on either side of the 6,553-yard, par-72 layout at Woodmont Country Club course. She also gave away five bogeys. The conditions were quite challenging as the players weathered some long rough and fast greens.
Two other Indian-Americans Megha Ganne of New Jersey and Gurleen Kaur of Houston, Texas shot 71 and 78 respectively to be placed Tied-7th and T-102.
Varma opened with par and then had a bogey on second and a birdie on third before she settled down. Two more bogeys on seventh and ninth saw her turn in two-over 38. She had bogeys on 12th and 16th and a birdie in between on Par-5 15th for one-over 37 on the tougher back nine.
Rachel Kuehn and Riley Smyth, both playing in their first Women’s Amateur, carded 4-under 68s, were in shared lead as Hurricane Isaias approached Maryland delaying the round by two hours and 16 minutes. Two players were yet to finish.
Kuehn, 19, with her older brother on the bag, birdied six of her first 11 holes but ran out of birdies thereafter and bogeyed 13th.
Interestingly, Kuehn’s mother, Brenda, who is watching her daughter play this week, competed in 13 U.S. Women’s Amateurs, nine U.S. Women’s Opens and two Curtis Cups. She played her final Women’s Open in 2001 at Pine Needles when she was eight months pregnant with Rachel.
Smyth, 20, had five birdies against just one bogey.
Defending champion Gabriela Ruffels, who played with Kuehn, opened with an even-par 72.
Due to the forecasted arrival of Hurricane Isaias overnight, which is expected to drop upwards of 4 inches of rain in the Washington, D.C., metro area, play has been postponed for the entirety of Tuesday and play resumes on Wednesday morning.