BRYAN – In a clash more fitting for a championship match than in the Round of 16 in which it occurred, TCU junior Annika Clark’s 3-and-2 victory over UT-San Antonio junior Julie Houston highlighted an action-packed second day at the 96th WTGA State Amateur Championship.
In all, 24 matches were played in the Rounds of 32 and 16 at the well-conditioned and challenging Traditions Club. Eight players emerged for Thursday morning’s Quarterfinal Round.
Most notably among them is Clark, the tournament’s No. 1 seed after she painted a 3-under-par 69 masterpiece in Tuesday’s Qualifying Round. The Round of 16 match-up against Houston featured two of the best young amateurs in Texas, both who own extensive experience in the state’s oldest and most prestigious amateur championship. The Highland’s Clark won the 94th playing of the WTGA State Amateur in 2015. Houston, who hails from Allen, was the runner-up in last summer’s 95th edition. Both competitors also qualified for next month’s U.S. Women’s Amateur at San Diego Country Club.
Wednesday afternoon’s duel was a rematch of last year’s Semifinals Match, in which Houston dispatched Clark, 2 and 1, at historic Brook Hollow Golf Club in Dallas. This time around, Clark’s 7-foot birdie putt on the eighth hole and pars on the ninth and 11th holes built an insurmountable 3-up advantage. The two young titans traded pars for much of the back nine until Clark ended it on the par-3 16th hole.
“I stayed pretty even and solid, not making too many birdies or bogeys,” said Clark, who advanced to play Lauren Cox from Orange in the first Quarterfinals Match on Thursday morning. “There really wasn’t a turning point, it was more of me just shaving off holes by making pars.”
Houston, who was the No. 17 seed, showed the grit and skill that propelled her to the Championship Match last summer, when she lost to Michigan senior Grace Choi, 3 and 2. In the end, Houston was unable to save enough pars to hang with Clark on another hot, humid day that saw the temperature top out at 99 degrees.
“I just couldn’t get anything to drop,” Houston said. “Annika played great and hit a lot of clutch shots when she needed to.”
The eighth-seeded Cox, a University of North Texas sophomore, made her way into the Quarterfinals with a 2-and-1 victory against Frisco’s Brielle Ward, a junior at Northern Illinois.
In all, seven of the top 10 seeds survived their first two matches to advance to the Quarterfinals, including each of the top-5 seeds. Second-seeded Maddie McCrary, an Oklahoma State Junior from Wylie, defeated University of Houston junior Maddy Rayner from Southlake, 2 up.
No. 3 seed Erin Fahey, a Bowling Green junior from Austin, defeated Montgomery’s Kendell Wisenbaker, a Mississippi State junior, in 19 holes. Fourth-seeded Allie Andersen from The Woodlands, a teammate of Rayner’s at UH, defeated Fort Worth’s Rylee Pedigo, 2 and 1. Pedigo, a senior at Oklahoma, was the Medalist at the 95th WTGA State Amateur.
The No. 5 seed, UH senior Megan Thothong from Dallas, advanced with a 3-and-2 victory against Chaithra Katamneni, a University of Nevada junior from Coppell. Thothong faces her teammate, Andersen, in Thursday’s Quarterfinals.
Wednesday’s morning session featured the Round of 32 matches, in which nine of the top 10 seeds advanced. The only upset came when 24th-seeded Ward defeated ninth-seeded Lauren Comegys of Austin. Ward won on the 19th hole against Comegys, a sophomore at James Madison.
Two top seeds dominated their first matches. Clark took down Dhruva Ashni of Katy, 8 and 6. Fourth-seeded Andersen won by the same margin against SMU sophomore Kenzie Wright from McKinney.   
“I was just really steady and made a lot of pars,” Clark said. “I didn’t make any bogeys and never lost a score. I was able to get up-and-down for par and that was the key to match.”
Thursday’s Quarterfinals Matches begin at 8 a.m. For more information on the 96th WTGA State Amateur, including complete results and the outcomes of the seven flights that were determined by GHIN Handicap Indexes after Tuesday’s Qualifying Round, please click here