Lexi Harkins hasn’t competed in many match-play tournaments in her career, but that didn’t faze the Crystal Lake Central senior when she stepped onto the golf course Wednesday for the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship.
Harkins, seeded 55th, wasn’t worried about taking on the tournament’s No. 10-ranked player, Princess Superal of the Philippines. The University of North Carolina commit never trailed against Superal in the opening round at the Country Club of Charelston in Charelston, S.C., en route to a 3 and 2 win.
Harkins advances to Thursday’s round of 32 against No. 42 Leona Maguire of Ireland with match play beginning at 8:20 a.m.
“I think I played pretty well,” Harkins said. “I took control early. I won my first four holes. ... I don’t play a lot of match play, but I feel like you kind of take it hole by hole.”
Competing in about her fifth match-play tournament, Harkins said her mindset was reminding herself that each hole was a clean slate. That mentality paid off. Harkins built the lead to four through the first four holes. However, Superal trimmed Harkins’ lead to one through 10 holes.
But Harkins never wavered.
Harkins believed her birdie putt on No. 15, which put her up three, was her biggest shot of the round and “kind of ended the match.”
“I just kind of played well and ran with it the whole day,” Harkins said.
The biggest adjustment going from stroke play to match play, Harkins said, was changing her approach of going up against one golfer instead of the entire tournament field.
“Especially because I haven’t played a lot of match play, it gives me some confidence going into the next matches,” Harkins said of her upset win.
To qualify for the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship, Harkins tied for medalist honors by shooting 1-over-par 73 July 15 at Forest Hill Golf Course in Forest Lake, Minn. Harkins said this is about her eighth tournament in which she has competed this summer.
With a quick turnaround between U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship rounds, Harkins’ plan is to keep the same mentality of taking it one hole at a time Thursday.
“Definitely, this summer my game has matured and changed,” Harkins said. “I think I’ve been playing better than I did last year and have some new experiences playing in bigger tournaments.”