LOS ANGELES — Latanna Stone and Megan Schofill are good friends.
The two have competed against each other for four years in the Southeastern Conference, Stone playing for LSU and Schofill for Auburn. The Tigers, though from different litters, will battle for supremacy Sunday in the canyons of Bel-Air.
Stone and Schofill will play for the Robert Cox Trophy on Sunday, as the duo advanced to the championship match of the 2023 U.S. Women’s Amateur on Saturday at Bel-Air Country Club. What has been a stellar week in LA comes to a close with 36 holes Sunday, but one of the fifth-year golfers hailing from Florida will be a United States Golf Association champion by day’s end.
U.S. Women’s Amateur: Photos
It is the sixth U.S. Women’s Amateur appearance for both players.
Here’s what you need to know from the semifinals of the 2023 U.S. Women’s Amateur.
Stone continues run through gauntlet
To get to the championship match of the U.S. Women’s Amateur, a player has to win five matches.
In the case of Stone, those matches have come against some of the best in amateur golf and numerous past champions.
In the opening round, she knocked off Amari Avery, the third-highest-ranked player in the field and Curtis Cup team member. Then, she beat Rachel Kuehn, the second-highest-ranked player at Bel-Air and fellow Curtis Cupper. Then, she knocked off Yana Wilson, coming back from a 5 down thru 7 deficit, and Thienna Huyhn, both of them being former USGA champions.
In the semifinals, she beat another Curtis Cupper and former NCAA individual champion, Rachel Heck. Stone was 5 up with six to play and held on for a 3 and 2 victory.
“We were laughing our butts off and having a great time,” Stone said of her and Heck’s match. “Winning all of those holes was great, but it’s match play and anything can happen.”
In the first nine holes, Stone won six of them and had five birdies to one bogey. She added another birdie on the par-4 11th to go 5 up, but Heck won with a par on the par-3 13th to slightly decrease the deficit.
Then, a poor drive on the par-4 15th resulted in Stone eventually conceding the hole, but she had an easy two-putt par to clinch the match on the 16th.
“You just can’t let your guard down,” Stone said.
Stone was the top seed in match play last year and fell in her opening match. This year, she has had an incredibly challenging road to the final, but she continues to find ways to persevere.
“Match play is just a different game,” Stone said.
Schofill has emotional victory
Twice in the moments shortly after her match, Schofill’s eyes filled with tears and she struggled to find words to convey her feelings.
She was thankful for her parents and boyfriend, C.J. Easley, who’s on the bag this week. She was processing what she had just accomplished, advancing to the finals of the U.S. Women’s Amateur via a 2-and-1 victory against Michigan fifth-year Hailey Borja.
“There’s no words that can describe it,” Schofill said. “Every girl in the field, this was obviously their goal. Super proud of myself.”
Schofill, the sixth seed after match play, took a 1-up lead after the first hole and never trailed the rest of the match.
Borja tied it with a birdie on the par-3 13th, but Schofill regained control quickly, making eagle on the par-5 14th and then winning with par on the next hole.
“That (eagle) was a huge swing in the match,” Schofill said.
A big up-and-down from Borja on the 16th hole sent the match to the 17th, but Schofill made a comfortable par to halve the hole and clinch the match.
Heading into the championship match, Schofill knows Stone is a great ball striker and putter, but Schofill knows her game is strong enough to hoist the trophy, too.
“The ultimate goal is to go out there and try to play my best tomorrow, but regardless of the outcome I need to hold my head high and I’m just excited to play against Latanna,” Schofill said.
No. 45 Latanna Stone vs. No. 6 Megan Schofill, 12:45 p.m. ET (first 18 holes)
The afternoon 18 will begin after a lunch break.
TV, streaming information
Sunday, Aug. 13 (Championship match)
7-10 p.m. ET (Golf Channel, Peacock)