ROCKVILLE, Md. – Emilia Migliaccio was born for match play.
All tied on the 18th hole in the Round of 16 at the 120th U.S. Women’s Amateur at Woodmont Country Club outside of Washington, D.C., both Migliaccio and opponent Megan Schofill were in the fairway, with Schofill first to play. The rising sophomore at Auburn almost ended the match on the spot, flagging her approach to just inches after her ball took a 360-degree spin around the cup. The birdie was conceded, leaving Migliaccio outside of 15 feet to extend the match.
“Yeah, I heard her reaction, but I saw the ball. I knew it wasn’t in the hole. I knew it was probably two inches, and I was going to give it to her,” said Migliaccio. “I just hit a great 7-iron. It didn’t go like at the pin, but it was really good … So I was just trying to focus on the present as much as I could on exactly what I needed to do without trying to force anything.”
Migliaccio, a rising senior at Wake Forest, let out a “YEAH!” so loud it could be heard on Capitol Hill. She buried the putt as if it was a tap-in, pushing the match to a playoff.
The match went 22 holes, ending on the fourth, a testy 338-yard par 4 that requires accuracy off the tee and precision to the green. Migliaccio lipped out for the win from five feet on the previous hole, and wasn’t about to make the same mistake twice.
“On this hole I was in the same spot this afternoon against Megan, and I three-putted because I hit it four feet short,” remembered Migliaccio. “So I was like, ‘OK, you know it’s not that fast,’ and I actually thought I hit it too high, but then it rolled in on the very back, so that was nice, especially after I thought I made that putt (on the previous hole).”
“I was just trying not to focus on, ‘Oh, that was my chance to win on the last hole.’”
Migliaccio’s mother, Ricki, a former All-American at Arizona and teammate of Annika Sorenstam, was the one to let out a yell this time after her daughter’s win. The two have a very close relationship. Ricki is at every college event, walking step-by-step with her daughter. This week she’s on the bag as her caddie.
“It’s just really special,” said Emilia of her mother, who also caddied for her when she won the gold medal at last year’s Pan-Am Games. “She knows what to say. She knows my golf game. She has a really good golf IQ, so I know I can just rely on her to tell me what the slope is and what number I need to play, which is good when you’re kind of just in the moment and you need someone else to kind of help you out.”
“So yeah, she’s incredible. I’m so lucky to have a mom like her.”
How will she prepare for her quarterfinal match against defending champion Gabriela Ruffels? Schoolwork, obviously. Emilia has a final project due for a sports business summer class she’s taking online. The life of a student-athlete doesn’t take a break for a USGA championship.
In the opening two matches of the Round of 16, two surprise losses shook up the bracket. Top-seed Rachel Heck, an incoming freshman at Stanford, lost to 2021 Stanford commit Rose Zhang, marking the 29th consecutive year the No. 1 seed won’t win the U.S. Women’s Amateur.
The only other match to go to a playoff came in the middle of the round where Virginia’s Riley Smyth took down Notre Dame’s Lauren Beaudreau in 21 holes. All three of Smythe’s matches have gone to at least the 18th hole. With potentially 36 holes to play tomorrow, the Cary, North Carolina, native (which Migliaccio also calls home) has played 57 holes of match play the past two days (93 in the past five days counting stroke play).
Ole Miss’ Kennedy Swann defeated Oklahoma State’s Isabella Fierro, 2 and 1, leading to a special moment with her father just off the 17th green. Swann had her dad on the bag for the two rounds of stroke play, but switched to her assistant coach Zack Byrd for match play. Seeing tears in her dad’s eyes, Swann said with a laugh, “Don’t cry! We still have three matches to go.”
Rose Zhang vs. Kaleigh Telfer, 7 a.m. ET
Alyaa Abdulghany vs. Riley Smyth, 7:10 a.m. ET
Valery Plata vs. Kennedy Swann, 7:20 a.m. ET
Emilia Migliaccio vs. Gabriela Ruffels, 7:30 a.m. ET
How to Watch
Saturday, Aug. 8
Quarterfinal, semifinal matches: 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Golf Channel
Sunday, Aug. 9
Championship match (afternoon 18): 1-4 p.m., Golf Channel