Wearing the Day-Glo orange and black of her future OSU Cowboy teammates, Casie jump-started her round with a clean 2-on/2-putt par at the opening hole, against the bogey-5 Freman scored after thinning her second shot into the right-front bunker. Teeing off first at the second hole, Cathrea launched a towering drive hard across the inside corner of the 368-yard dogleg right par-4. Appearing at first to have cleared the top branches of a huge pine guarding the corner, the ball disappeared into the upper branches, never to be seen again.
|Casie Cathrea, 16, of Livermore, CA, awaits the start of her third round in the match play portion of the 2012 U.S. Junior Girls’ Championship at Lake Merced Golf Club in Daly City. July 19, 2012 (Photo credit: Gary K. McCormick)|
Starting with the 4th hole, an uphill par-4 with a tee shot to a landing area hidden by the crest of a rise, Cathrea racked up 3 wins in a row to go four up in the match. Her opponent, Freman, a rising senior at Faith Lutheran High School in Las Vegas who will be attending Santa Clara University in 2013, played well through this stretch, but a bunkered ball here or a slipped putt there made the difference between a win and a loss as the holes went by.
Though it might have appeared at first glance that Cathrea had the match going her way, at the 395-yard par-4 seventh hole Freman made it clear that she wasn’t going down without a fight, belting her drive 20 yards past the long-hitting Cathrea to the left-center of the fairway. Her approach shot found the right front bunker – one of three guarding the green – but she wedged out to 6 feet and rolled in the par putt to halve the hole.
Freman dropped to 5-under at the par-3 eighth hole, which was played at 128 yards this round, from a more forward tee box than in earlier rounds. Her tee ball found another right front bunker, and her splash-out rolled well past the hole to leave a delicate downhill slider for par. She missed the comebacker, going five down after conceding Cathrea’s two-foot par putt.
At the 481-yard par-5 ninth hole it was Cathrea’s turn to find a bunker with her approach shot, while Freman put her second shot just short of the green on the front fringe. Cathrea splashed out to about three feet from the hole, but missed her birdie putt, giving one back to Freman when the Nevadan chipped on close to the hole from just off the green, and sank the resulting birdie putt.
The ocean breeze was freshening and wisps of fog were starting to blow in overhead as the match made the turn. Both girls bogeyed the upwind 10th hole, halving it at 5 apiece as they adjusted to the strengthening breeze. At the shorter but more exposed eleventh hole, Freman found the right rough with her drive, landing in a tough spot with a line to the green but under low branches that complicated her shot. Her low punch out of the lush rough didn’t travel far enough to find the green or the fairway. She chipped out of the rough to four feet below the flagstick, but lost the hole when her par putt failed to find the hole.
The match came to the par-3 twelfth hole with Cathrea up five with seven to play. Both put their tee shots short and right, Freman’s catching a backwards bounce off of a huge cypress that left her well short of the green in more of the clingy rough. Cathrea left her second shot short of the green in the rough, while Freman’s second found the right hand bunker. Halving the hole with a pair of bogeys after their individual misadventures, the two competitors came to the thirteenth hole determined to make up ground.
Cathrea’s drive on the thirteenth found the shallow rough right of the fairway in the low collection area between the main fairway and the green, while Freman’s drive was center cut in the same area. Both girls fired stunningly-accurate approach shots, Freman’s about four feet above and right of the flag, Cathrea’s maybe three feet away, right and slightly below. Both made their birdie putts, and they went to the fourteenth hole with Cathrea “dormie” at +5 with five holes to play.
Inspired, perhaps, by the hard-charging play they had each demonstrated at the previous hole, both girls flew long, straight drives well down the fairway at the par-5 14th hole, Cathrea’s dead center and Freman’s nearer the right side of the fairway. Freman made a fine approach shot to the front fringe of the green, leaving herself a long chip-and-a-putt scenario for birdie, but Cathrea made a definite statement about how she felt the match should conclude when she flew her approach shot to the tucked back-right flag, leaving a two-foot putt between herself and an eagle 3 – and a win. Freman’s chip shot came up short, in the right-hand fringe, and after her birdie putt died below the hole she conceded the eagle, and the match, to Cathrea.