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Top-Seeded Carreon Advances to Quarterfinals at 101st Women’s Texas Amateur

HUMBLE – University of Texas at San Antonio senior Camryn Carreon survived a birdie barrage, an ace, two talented opponents, and 99-degree weather on Wednesday on the Tournament Course at the Golf Club of Houston to advance to the Quarterfinals at the 101st Women’s Texas Amateur.

After dispatching No. 32 seed Leah Alberto of Kingwood 4&3 in the morning’s Round of 32, Carreon found herself 1 up through 11 holes in the Round of 16 against Houston’s Sarah Kmiecik, a junior at Mary Hardin-Baylor. Then Kmiecik birdied the 12th, 13th, and 14th holes to flip the match and go 1 up.

Carreon and Kmiecik traded pars on the par-15 15th hole, then the fireworks show began.

The par-3 16th played 168 yards into a right-to-left wind. Kmiecik pulled out a 4-hybrid with 25 degrees of loft. She flushed it and called after it, “Be the right number!”

Spoiler alert: It was the right number.

Her ball landed just right of the hole, spun left, hopped twice, and disappeared. It was Kmiecik’s fourth career ace and third in the past six months. Suddenly, she was 2 up with two to play. A lot of opponents might’ve packed it in after that, but not Carreon. All she did was drain a 15-foot birdie on No. 17, and then a 25-footer for another one on the 18th to draw the match to even.

Carreon ended it when she stuffed a wedge to 4 inches on the 20th hole.

“I was just trying to give myself a chance towards the end,” said Carreon, who recently qualified for the 122nd U.S. Women’s Amateur in August. “On the greens, I was just freeing myself up. They weren’t falling earlier today in the round like they’ve been, but they did at the end. It was the right time.”

The second, third, fourth, and fifth seeds all were eliminated from the Championship Match Play Bracket in the morning’s Round of 32. Such is the nature of match play. Anything can happen. Kyle Fraser from Fort Worth, the No. 2 seed, lost to 31st-seeded Isaac Remington of Montgomery in 19 holes. No. 3 seed Haley Vargas was defeated by 30th-seeded Hailee Cooper from Montgomery, 1 down. The No. 4 seed, Delaney Martin from Boerne, fell to Irving’s Hunter Nugent, 3&2. The fifth seed, Gabriela McNelly from Mico, lost to McKinney’s Ellie Rippee, 3&1.

Meagan Winans, runner-up at last summer’s 100th Women’s Texas Amateur, was one of the few top seeds to survive Wednesday’s Rounds of 32 and 16. The University of Oklahoma freshman from Richardson needed 19 holes to get past Hankamer’s Cari Denson in the morning. It wasn’t any easier in the afternoon; Fort Worth’s Megan Tang pushed Winans to 23 holes before the young Sooner notched the victory.

The heat was a major factor yet again, with the mercury tipping out at nearly 100 degrees. By 1:30 p.m., the heat index was 105 degrees. Shade umbrellas, lots of bottled water, and iced towels were omnipresent at the Golf Club of Houston.

Four of the 16 matches in the morning’s Round of 32 went to extra holes, highlighted by a 24-hole marathon between Texas Golf Hall of Famer Mina Hardin from Fort Worth and University of Illinois sophomore Alise Knudson from Dallas. Knudson ultimately prevailed after trailing 3 down through nine holes.

Hardin was still 1 up by the time they reached the 18th tee box, but she pushed her drive into the right rough. After a punchout back to the fairway, Hardin clipped a wedge to 4 feet. Knudson was in for par; Hardin needed to convert the knee-knocker to win the match.

“I misread it,” she said.

After trading pars on the first extra hole, Hardin said she thought she was cooked when Knudson poured in a 20-footer for birdie. Hardin, the 2010 U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur champion, answered by draining a 15-foot birdie of her own.

“We were both hitting really good shots,” said Hardin, a five-time Women’s Texas Amateur champion. “It’s not like we were dogging it around out there. We were both 1-under through the first five extra holes.”

The match concluded on the Tournament Course’s par-4 sixth hole when Hardin yanked an approach shot into the water.

“That’s golf,” she said. “Sometimes you’re the bug. Sometimes you’re the windshield. Alise is a heck of a player.”

The Championship Match Play Bracket’s Quarterfinals begin Thursday at 8 a.m. The Semifinals follow in the afternoon, setting the stage for the Final Match on Friday morning. For more information on the 101st Women’s Texas Amateur, click here.