15-year-old Googles ‘match play’ night before U.S. Girls Junior matchup, then beats former champ

July 25, 2019
Kelly Xu won her match on Wednesday and advanced to the next round in Wisconsin.

Kelly Xu had a big-time matchup coming on Wednesday. She played well enough in 36 holes of stroke play to qualify for the match play portion of the U.S. Girls Junior Championship at SentryWorld in Stevens Point, Wis. But Xu’s first-round opponent was Erica Shepard, the 2017 winner of this event and a 2019 U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball champ.

It would be no easy test. But first — Xu had to figure out what the heck match play was.

“I learned about match play like [Tuesday] night by Googling it,” she said. “So I definitely like it more than stroke play.”

Xu is apparently a quick study. She debuted in her first-ever match play contest on Wednesday and beat Shepherd, who is heading to Duke in the fall, 3 and 2 to advance to the Round of 32 on Thursday. The winners on Thursday morning will also tee it up again in the afternoon in the Round of 16. The quarterfinals and semifinals are on Friday and the 36-final is on Saturday. Friday and Saturday action will be broadcast on FS1 from 2-4 p.m. ET.

“When we found out we made the cut we were overjoyed,” said Xu, a 15 year old from Claremont, Calif. “We were overachieving already. So I’m just going to keep playing relaxed and learn from some pretty great players.”

Xu has been in the spotlight before. She was the first female champ ever crowned at Augusta National when she won the Girls 9-and-under Division in the inaugural Drive, Chip and Putt Championship in 2004.