McCurdy Acquits Herself Well in Women's Open

FAYETTEVILLE -- Amanda McCurdy said Tuesday that the $17,900 she would have won as a pro at the U.S. Women's Open Golf Championship last week didn't change her thinking about college and amateur golf.

"I'm just lucky I have one more year to play for a great place," said the University of Arkansas senior from El Dorado. "It's a pretty exciting time for me."

McCurdy, the current Women's U.S. Amateur runner-up, tied for 39th place in the Women's Open at Cherry Hills in Denver, Colo., at 15-over-par, just three strokes higher than ballyhooed golfers Annika Sorenstam and Michelle Wie.

"Those are two unbelievable players," McCurdy said. "I know they didn't play as well as they could last week, but I didn't either."

McCurdy, a long hitter despite her 5-foot-1 frame, had one round of even-par 71 at Cherry Hills and another in which she played the first 16 holes in 1-over-par.

"It was an amazing experience," she said. "I shot four rounds in the 70s and didn't have my best game."

On Sunday, when many golfers' scores ballooned in the hot, dry conditions, McCurdy alslo struggled with a 78.

"They stopped watering the greens, and I had so many shots that landed on the front of the greens and rolled all the way over the back," McCurdy said. "But I also lost (control of) my driver for a few holes and that's usually my strong point. I got impatient, when I should have seen that everyone else was struggling, too."

Still, McCurdy attracted good gallery support, including 50 or 60 fans with Arkansas ties who called the Hogs after her opening tee shot on Sunday.

"I love playing in front of people," McCurdy said. "I'm always nervous on the first tee, but not after that. The most nervous I got all week was when I was announced to tee off before Lorena Ochoa in a practice round on Monday."

Ochoa had just won an LPGA tournament the day before, making birdies on six of her last seven holes, before arriving in Denver at 4 a.m.

"I had been scheduled to play my practice round with Christie Kerr, another great player, but when Lorena got there they moved the schedule up for her," McCurdy said. "It was a great opportunity for me, and I learned a lot from her."

One thing McCurdy learned at Cherry Hills was that the ball flies much farther at altitude.

"If I had 75 yards to the green, I'd play it for 70," she said. "I'm such a feel player that I didn't really try to figure out the difference. But I improved with my distances as the week went on."

Arkansas third-year golf coach Kelley Hester, who attended the tournament, said McCurdy's performance had an impact on some prospects the Lady Razorbacks are recruiting. They watched on TV.

McCurdy had four top-10 collegiate finishes as a UA junior and tied for 34th in the NCAA Championships at Sunriver, Ore., with a 298 total. At Cherry Hills, she shot 299.

Not bad for someone whose hometown was incorrectly announced as El Dorado, Ariz., at the Open.

"I said, 'Arkansas!' while I put my tee in the ground, and people laughed," McCurdy said. "That settled my nerves a little."

McCurdy didn't meet Sorenstam "(Her security was pretty tight") or Wie, but she said, "My dad did stand in line for Annika's autograph. He wanted me to get it, but I wouldn't do it. I had other things to think about."

What she's thinking about now are three big tournaments this summer: the U.S. Public Links at Kansas City, Mo., July 11-16; the Women's Amateur at the Ainsley Golf Club in Atlanta, Ga., Aug. 1-7 and the North-South Amateur at Pinehurst, N.C., Aug. 8-15.

"Amanda has some more great opportunities coming up," Hester said. "We've had a lot of firsts with our program in three years, and Amanda finishing 39th in the Women's Open is another good one."

McCurdy spent the final moments before Tuesday's press conference shooting hoops with teammate Lindsey Hinshaw in Barnhill Arena.

"She's pretty good," Hinshaw said. " I think she was good at volleyball, too."

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