By Mike Dougherty
Nicole Morales coaxed in enough long putts to make up for the short putts that eluded the hole Wednesday and posted a 2-and-1 victory over Liv Cheng in the opening round of the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship at the Country Club of Charleston.
The lead changed hands five times before the 17-year-old from South Salem rolled in consecutive birdies at Nos. 12 and 13 to go 1-up.
“It was a real adventure,” said Morales, who’s got one year of high school remaining and will then play at the University of Alabama. “I hit the ball really well today and put five or six approach shots inside of 10 feet. The problem was, I missed a lot of the putts I’m supposed to make and made a lot of the putts I’m not supposed to.”
A downhill birdie from 20 feet on 16 left the match dormie.
Morales plays California native Casie Cathrea in the Round of 32 on Thursday, and will go back out after lunch if she is victorious.
“I do know Casie, but we’ve never played,” Morales said. “We are going to be teammates on the Junior Solheim Cup next week in Colorado so it’s going to be interesting. She is a very aggressive player, very long. I know she’s going to Oklahoma State University so I’m going to be wearing my Alabama colors.”