Texas Longhorn Kaitlyn Papp made waves on Monday as the first amateur golfer since Michelle Wie in 2005 to play in the final group of the U.S. Women's Open, played over the weekend at Houston's Champions Golf Club. Papp finished as low (best) amateur tied for ninth at +3 with an up-and-down back nine that should make Texas fans hopeful for another star on the pro circuit.
Amateurs Linn Grant and Kaitlyn Papp now off in the final group with Hinako Shibuno. This is the first time an amat… https://t.co/Dt2menbGIr— Justin Ray (@Justin Ray)1607794769.0
Papp is a senior at the University of Texas after graduating from Lake Travis High School. The Austin native caught the attention of the golf world this weekend with her unique style and shot routine that had the announcers of the tournament baffled. The former Big XII player and freshmen of the year's ability to drive the ball in addition to Papp's patience kept her in the tournament untill the last day.
“Unusual” https://t.co/n8AgAI0iXn— Oma Golf (@Oma Golf)1607892099.0
Papp came into the fourth and final round Monday after having an up-and-down Round 3. After bogeying the second hole, Papp was able to battle back on eight for a birdie before having back-to-back bogeys on 16 and 17. She tied for fourth, trailing group leader Hinako Shibuno by four strokes to start the day.
How to hit the perfect punch shot, by Kaitlyn Papp https://t.co/LmiWZMXn86— GOLF.com (@GOLF.com)1607802324.0
Papp's caddie for the Open that was hosted in Houston was University of Texas Associate Head Coach Kate Golden. Golden totaled eight top-five finishes and 14 top-10 showings while she was on the LPGA tour.
Golden's experience and relationship with Papp's was on display for the entire weekend, but especially in the back nine of the final day when it was clear Golden's mentorship helped calm down the young golfer and had her finish strong.
Does Kaitlyn Papp lead the field in chip-ins??? Another one here on the 7th hole and the @TexasWGolf amateur is jus… https://t.co/V6Xri2NBnt— Cameron Parker (@Cameron Parker)1607963254.0
To start the day, Papp was able to shoot par through the first four holes, but bogeyed par 5 on the fifth. While it wasn't costly at the time, shooting par would have given her a stoke against first place Shibuno, instead of pushing her back to seventh. Papp battled back shooting a birdie and finishing even through the front nine.
Kaitlyn Papp is 3 off the lead at the @uswomensopen & right in contention. She went to the same high school as… https://t.co/vXxI72bfFE— GolfNow (@GolfNow)1607963437.0
Papp struggled on the back nine, double bogeying 11 and putting her two over par. It essentially put any shot at the title out of reach. Back to back bogeys down the stretch had Papp ending the day +3 and tied for ninth place on the leaderboard to end the day. The senior finished strong, ending her day on a birdie on the 18th hole.
She won't win but a lot for amateur Kaitlyn Papp from the University of Texas to play for down the stretch. She is… https://t.co/ekh8Y8gHm9— Grant Boone (@Grant Boone)1607971599.0
Had she turned pro, Papp could have won the $143,976 prize for ninth place.
Not only did the 22-year-old golfer have a good enough showing to get a top 10 finish, but it also allows her to come back and compete next year at the Womens Open. Her accomplishment will give further recognition to one of the powerhouse programs in the nation when it comes to collegiate women's sports.
It's matchday! Austin FC—Austin's first major league sport team—kicks off its debut season in Los Angeles today after years in the making. We know how much this means to our beloved city and are taking you along with us as we journey to LA!
Austin FC writer Claire Partain and I are excited to bring you game-day coverage straight from the City of Angels. Check back here for updates, and visit our socials: @austonianews for the latest.
5 p.m: Kickoff!
It's finally here! Claire will be updating Austonia's Twitter account live. And we'll post her game recap after the game. Best of luck Verdes!
4:40 p.m: Excitement radiates back home
Watch parties are in plenty supply back home. Austonia's Laura Figi visited Circle Brewing Co. and found a crowd of excited supporters.
4:20 p.m: Austin FC supporters are in the stadium
Although the Banc of California Stadium is hosting the match at limited capacity, we see some green in the stands ahead of kickoff. Just moments away from the Austin FC's debut!
~3:20 p.m: Austin FC's team bus enters the stadium grounds
With a warm welcome from Los Verdes, Austin FC players were welcomed into the Banc of California Stadium.
~1 p.m: Los Verdes in LA
(Rigo Rodriguez/Los Verdes)
Austin FC supporters are making their presence known in LA, including the Los Verdes group.
Los Verdes members started having match-day fun around the area this morning with brunch. We'll be joining them about an hour before the game outside the stadium to share some of their excitement. We'll post immediately to Austonia's Instagram.
11:45 a.m: We landed!
View from hotel room where we're staying; the stadium digital sign can be seen in the right corner. (Sonia Garcia/Austonia)
Switching over to pacific time, we're here and it's almost like no time went by. It's 9:45 a.m. here.
We've been in contact with Los Verdes, an Austin FC supporter group, who is also here in LA counting down to kickoff.
8:20 a.m: LA bound
Like many of you, we've been looking forward to this moment for, let's just say, a very long time. Today, we woke up bright and early, headed to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and hopped on a flight to LA.
A gloomy day in Austin with a very quiet airport, we're headed to sunny skies in California.
As we wait for the game to start at 4:30 p.m., check out Claire's preview of the game with a predicted lineup and timeline of the long journey to get here.
Years before the city of Austin went Verde, thousands of the city's soccer fans formed a supporters' group—MLS in Austin—for a team that didn't even exist yet.
Now, as the team's catchphrase suggests, those same fans are #LISTOS as they prepare to see their team on national television at Austin FC's debut on Saturday.
What to expect
The team will face a significant opponent in LAFC, who is projected at No. 2 in the league's power rankings. Austin FC currently sits at No. 21.
"LAFC has one of the best attacking teams in the league," Head Coach Josh Wolff said. "They will punish you. They've never been shy of putting up goals, and again, I expect them to be one of the best teams in the league this year."
The club has lived up to Wolff's words: in just their second season of existence, LAFC took first in the Western Conference and were Supporters' Shield winners in 2019.
Austin FC will need to hold off LAFC captain Carlos Vela, a versatile winger/attacking midfielder who won the Most Valuable Player title in 2019, as well as high-scoring forward Diego Rossi.
Austin FC starting lineup vs. LAFC
Meanwhile, LAFC will face challenges in DP Cecilio Dominguez and midfielder Alex Ring, the former NYCFC "ringleader" who wears the captain's armband for his new team. We still don't have any updates for starting forward Rodney Redes, who may or not be playing Saturday due to a "ding" on his knee.
If Redes is fine, we think he'll stay at forward, where he's been excelling throughout preseason. If not, a more experienced Kekuta Manneh might take to the pitch in his stead. Midfielder Jared Stroud is also in the running after he went in for an injured Redes against San Antonio FC on April 10.
While Captain Alex Ring and DPs Tomas Pochettino and Dominguez are shoe-ins for the starting lineup, some other positions are up in the air.
Twenty-year-old Daniel Pereira, Austin FC's No. 1 SuperDraft pick, has done even better than expected in preliminary scrimmages. He's still young, however, and Austin FC recruited him more for his depth than immediate starting appeal. If Pereira doesn't start, it's likely to be Diego Fagundez who takes the starting spot.
Another young potential starter comes in 22-year-old Jhohan Romana, a sturdy defender who has shown inconsistency in preseason. The backline is a clear weak spot for the team so far, and while Romana shows promise, Wolff may look for experience in Julio Cascante for their first starting lineup.
Finally, goalies Brad Stuver and Andrew Tarbell are neck-and-neck in the race for a starting spot. We put Stuver on here for his preseason performance, but neither would be a surprise as starting goalkeepers.
How we got here
It's hard to put into words how monumental it is for these supporters to see their own team one day away from its historic opening match, but the excitement can be felt across the city.
To put things in perspective, here's a timeline of events that brought us here, from "MLS in Austin" all the way up to Saturday's opener.
Where to watch
While Austin FC's first season will officially be underway, their inaugural match will be nearly 1,500 miles away from their home city.
That's no problem for some fans, including those in Austin FC fan group Los Verdes. A group of dedicated supporters are going to the West Coast to welcome their team into the stadium. While LAFC isn't officially allowing Austin fans in due to COVID protocol, some are still searching for a way to watch their beloved team take the pitch for the first time.
Meanwhile, thousands of dedicated fans are also staying home to support their club. Austin FC's first official watch party is sold out with over 1,000 RSVPs, and Austin Anthem is holding a 1000 plus-person watch party as well. For a full list of Austin FC watch parties and participating pubs, click here.
For those staying home, the match will be broadcast nationally on FOX and FOX Deportes at 5 p.m. on Saturday.
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