Brewster, Massachusetts_ Despite traveling more than 3,200 miles from Victoria, on the west coast of her native Canada to the Bay State for Wednesday’s U.S. Women’s Open qualifier at Cape Cod National Golf Club, there appeared to be no sense of fatigue for Celeste Dao, the 17-year old Canadian amateur junior star who has already begun making a name for herself on the North America golf scene.
The same could be said for competitor Celine Herbin, an LPGA professional who traveled more than 1,500 miles from her residency to the Brewster site. The two fired scores of 4-under 140 and even par 144, respectively, over 36 holes to each earn spots in the 73rd U.S. Women’s Open Championship, being contested later this month at Alabama’s Shoal Creek Golf Club.
For Dao, who last year traveled to Massachusetts where she successfully qualified for the 2017 U.S. Girls’ Junior Amateur Championship, Wednesday’s 36-hole qualifier produced similar results to what she has been seeing from her game so far this season. She made four birdies and three bogies during her morning round to lead the field at the midway point with a score of 1-under par 71.
She then followed with a 3-under 69 to finish the day at 4-under 140. This will be Dao’s first time advancing to the U.S. Women’s Open Championship and the first time competing in a professional event.
“It’s just amazing,” said Dao. ” [It’s been my goal] since I was a little girl to play with the pros, and now it’s going to happen in two weeks.”
Dao began her USGA Championship pursuit on Wednesday morning by making a birdie on the 510-yard, par-5 hole. She went on to card a second birdie on the 501-yard par-5 15th hole to even out two bogeys and make the turn at even par 36. She then made birdie the first hole on the back nine of her morning round, a straightaway par-5 that measured 500 yards, and erased a bogey on the par-4 4th hole by carding a two on the par-3 8th hole.
“Pretty much everything was going good,” said Dao, who hopes her future includes playing collegiately in the United States. “My short game was really good and my approach to the greens and my putting [were also good].”
A competitor on the Team Canada Development team in Victoria, where she has spent the past three months improving her game, Dao improved upon her morning round by making the turn at 2-under par, thanks to birdies made on the par-5 1st hole and par-4 7th hole. She went on to add a birdie on the par-4 14th hole to finish her afternoon round at 3-under 69.
“I felt like there was more wind in the afternoon, but my ball-striking was really good and I sticked (sic) more pins this afternoon, so that was really good,” added Dao when asked what went right during her afternoon round. “I really took advantage of the par-5’s. I think I had a lot of birdies on the par-5’s and I was just thinking about putting it on the green and then one-putting or two-putting.”
Dao picked up six victories in 2017, and already has tallied an array of top-10 finishes in 2018, including medalist honors at the 2018 Toyota Junior Golf World Cup Qualifier and second place at the 2018 CJGA Humber College PGM Western Junior Championship. Advancing to the U.S. Women’s Open Championship is another memorable accomplishment. She’ll be one of the youngest Canadian competitors to ever compete in the U.S. Women’s Open.
As an amateur and today’s medalist, Dao received recognition by the USGA for both feats.
Joining Dao will be Celine Herbin, a three-year member of the LPGA Tour, who is originally from Lacoste, France but who resides now in Doral Florida.
After only one birdie through her first 18 holes of play Wednesday morning that led to a 3-over 75 at the midway point, Herbin turned on the heat in the second 18 holes of play, firing six birdies on her way to a 3-under 69 score and a final round score of even-par 144.
“It is very exciting. It’s going to be my first U.S. Women’s Open” said Herbin. “I’ve played in three majors so far, so I’m very happy to qualify for the first time. I am really looking forward to it.”
In addition to Wednesday’s two qualifiers, two competitors earned alternate status and will learn their fates for playing at the U.S. Women’s Open Championship as the date nears.
Carmel, New York product Lauren Peter, who will play at Ohio State University beginning this fall, earned first alternate status with a score of 3-over 147, while Elizabeth Caron, of Greenlawn, New York, shot a 4-over 148 in regulation then edged Charlestown golfer Alison Walshe in a one-hole, sudden death playoff to capture second alternate status.