Japan’s Ayaka Furue held the lead for all but three holes during her 2-and-1 victory over American Lilia Vu. But, as much as Furue tried to put the match away early, Vu held in tight thanks to several late par saves.
“Lilia was definitely making a lot of par saves out there,” said Furue. “I felt a lot of pressure, but was luckily able to hold her off.”
Vu actually made the first move of the match, winning No. 2 with a birdie for a 1-up lead. Furue then reeled in wins at the next three holes to sit 2 up through five. She went 3 up when Vu needed two shots to escape the bunkers short of the 11th green and could not convert a long par putt.
Furue may have though she was lucky when Vu’s tee shot at No. 12 came to rest in the mulch under a tree off the fairway, but the UCLA alumn executed a beautiful shot to reach the green, just inside Furue. After Furue’s long birdie putt missed, Vu drained her own long birdie putt to win the hole and pull within two.
At the par-3 13th, Furue overpowered her chip shot from the front rough, sending the ball over the back of the green. Vu read her long putt beautifully, sending it just past the hole for a seemingly routine par. Furue made bogey, but the momentum swung back in her favor when Vu’s short par comebacker nicked the hole and rolled past.
Furue had multiple chances over the next few holes to take the win, but Vu matched her shot for shot. The Japanese rookie finally took the win at No. 17, when par saves were no longer enough for Vu to extend the match. Furue has played 61 holes at Shadow Creek and feels confident she has learned what she needs from the course as she heads into the finals.
“Being able to play the course for six days in a row now has been definitely playing to my advantage,” she said. “I know a lot of places where to hit the ball and where not to hit the ball, so it's been helping me out and helping my understanding of the course.”