AU Golfer Advances to U.S. Amateur Finals

Roswell, Ga.--Auburn senior Maria Martinez became the first in school in history to advance to the finals of the U.S. Women's Amateur as she defeated Alison Whitaker of Australia 4-and-3 in the semi-finals at Settindown Creek Course on Saturday.

Martinez, who helped Auburn win the 2005 SEC Women's Golf Championshhip, had four birdies to defeat Whitaker in 15 holes. Martinez lost the first hole, but took the lead she would never give up with a 12-foot birdie putt on the sixth hole.

"She didn't make any mistakes," said Whitaker. "She just kept burning the flag all day and holing a lot of putts. Every time I tried to force the play or make something happen, it turned bad on me."

Martinez was a semi-finalist at the 2002 Women's Amateur and upset junior player Michelle Wie in the 2004 tournament. Pressel finished second in this year's U.S. Women's Open and won the 2004 North & South Women's Amateur at age 16, making her the youngest winner in history.

"I'm a very emotional player and I've had to learn that balance between being patient and not getting ahead of yourself," Martinez said.

The Auburn senior has had a steady following during the tournament as her family flew in from Venezuela for the tournament. Coaches and teammates from Auburn also made the trek to Roswell in support.

"I love the crowd," Martinez said. "They have been great, especially my Auburn friends. It's really nice that they are here. I feel their support. It makes a difference because they give you so much positive energy. It's really great."

Martinez and Pressel will meet on Sunday at 7 a.m. CDT for the final 36 holes of match play. Coverage will be on a tape-delayed basis on the Golf Channel from 3-5 p.m. CDT.

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