Chalk up another Final Four for Michigan State.
Valentina Rossi, a rising sophomore for the Spartans, went extra holes to win her quarterfinal match in the U.S. Women’s Amateur on Friday at Westchester in upstate New York.
Rossi, in beating Stanford’s Brooke Seay with a birdie on the 19th hole (the short par-4 10th), advances to Saturday’s semifinal match, where she’ll meet Vivian Hou, an Arizona student from Chinese Taipei. The match is scheduled for 1:15 p.m. The championship match is set for Sunday.
Rossi used clutch putt after clutch putt to eventually beat Seay. She went 20 holes to win her Sweet 16 match, and 19 holes to win her opening match.
“Yeah, my putting’s the best of my game, so I’m really happy,” Rossi said shortly after closing out Seay. “I always know if my putting’s good, I always have a good round.
“It feels so good.”
Rossi, 20, playing in her first U.S. Women’s Amateur, took a quick two-hole lead in Friday’s match, but Seay fought back to square the match through nine holes. Ross birdied No. 10 to go one-up.
That’s where the clutch short game showed its teeth. On the par-4 11th, Rossi flew the green and left herself a tough chip from a downhill lie. She chipped to 8 feet and made that putt to halve the hole. On the par-5 12th, Seay made birdie, and Rossi matched her, making a 1-footer.
Rossi lost No. 13 to square the match, but won 14 when Seay missed a short par putt. Rossi found the bunker at 15, and couldn’t get up and down, squaring the match again.
Rossi then made huge par putts on Nos. 16 and 17, 6 feet and 12 feet, respectively, to stay in it, then got up and down from short of the 18th green, again with another knee-knocking putt, from 6 feet.
That sent the match to extras, starting at the short, 300-yard par-4 10th, where Seay hit first with a fairway wood, and missed the fairway right. Rossi went with driver, piping it down the middle, 50 yards from the flag. From a tight lie, she clipped it perfectly, the ball settling 3 feet from the cup. Seay three-putted for bogey, making the win inevitable. Rossi poured in the birdie for good measure.
Playing extra holes for the third time in four matches was a big plus for Rossi, she conceded.
“Oh yeah, for sure,” said Rossi, who is from Rosario, Argentina. “That’s an advantage for me.
“Thanks to all my family supporting me, all the people in Argentina, thank you so much. Thank you to my team from Michigan State and my coaches. Thank you.”
On Saturday, Rossi will meet another collegiate 20-year-old in Hou, a rising junior at Arizona who beat high-schooler Cara Heisterkamp of Westlake, Ohio, 3 and 2, in the semifinals. Hou’s run has been most remarkable, given she continues to play with a torn labrum in her hip.
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