Allie White, Jensen Castle advance to U.S. Women's Open
By Mike Dudurich • May 5, 2021
Mike is a freelance writer and host of The Golf Show on 93.7 The Fan Saturday mornings from 7-8 AM. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeDudurich.
When Allie White came to western Pennsylvania from her Lancaster, Ohio home, uppermost in her mind was hunting birdies as she competed Tuesday in a U.S. Women’s Open sectional qualifier at Shannopin Country Club. The graduate assistant coach at Ohio University did that better than anybody else in the field, qualifying for the Open by shooting rounds of 68 and 69 for a 5-under total, four clear of her nearest competitor.
With her second trip to the Open secured, White adjusted her aim for a little larger bird.
She had stayed at her good friend, Rachel Rohanna’s house the night before and then last night before another big day today.
“My caddie, a friend from back home is an enthusiastic turkey hunter and is always asking people if they know of good turkey hunting spots and Rachel suggested their place. So, at 4:45 a.m., we’re going turkey hunting,” White said.
White and Rohanna became fast friends while competing on the Symetra Tour and engage in all the things good friends do.
“I’ve been trash-talking Rachel for about two months regarding this trip,” said White, whose only other Open appearance came in 2009 and she made the cut.
She was very steady in becoming the medalist at Shannopin, making eight birdies and only three bogeys in 36 holes.
The second qualifier was Jensen Castle, a sophomore at the University of Kentucky who was highly touted as a freshman and came through with an outstanding first season for the Wildcats. Castle’s second season wasn’t as sparkling, but she is considered a rising star in the SEC.
It took her a pair of playoff holes to nail down that spot after Rohanna rolled in a 30-foot birdie putt on her final hole of regulation to tie her.
Rohanna, a native of Waynesburg, played in a Symetra Tour event in Kansas on Sunday and then had to embark on a nerve-wracking trip home that included a pair of interesting flights with the big goal being her getting home in time to play in Tuesday’s qualifier.
She got off to a blistering start at Shannopin. Her first six holes opened the possibility of a record round in the making. She started on the back nine and had posted three birdies and an eagle six holes in and five-under par. But a pair of bogeys on 17 and 18 took the air out of her balloon a bit, even though she finished with a 33.
She got to the clubhouse with a 68, which tied her with two others for low opening round. After lunch, it was back out to battle the elements and the hilly, wet Shannopin layout. She birdied the first hole but would only make two more while putting three bogeys and a double bogey on her card.
“In that first round, I also three-putted a par 5 or the round could have been even lower,” Rohanna said. “I didn’t drive it quite as well in the afternoon but was just missing the fairways by a little. I also had several balls that stopped up against the rough, that complicated things.”
She made three bogeys and a double bogey and had to make a 30-foot putt for birdie on the 36th hole of the day to get into a playoff with Jensen.
Both made pars on the first extra hole and Rohanna found the edge of the right fairway with her tee shot on the second. She knew that lie could produce a low left approach shot that could find a greenside bunker. And despite her best efforts, that’s exactly what happened. She couldn’t get up and down from there and Jensen two-putted from 15 feet to become the second qualifier.
Rohanna has three previous Open appearances (2011, 2013 and 2019) and could still find herself at the Olympic Club June 3-6 when the 76th Opens is held. Withdrawals are always part of the lead-up to Opens and the country still dealing with effects of COVID-19, the final field for this Open might not be known until much closer until the first tee time next month.
About the WPGA
Founded in 1899, the Western Pennsylvania Golf Association is the steward of amateur golf in the region. Started by five Member Clubs, the association now has nearly 200 Member Clubs and 33,000 members. The WPGA conducts 14 individual competitions and 10 team events, and administers the WPGA Scholarship Fund.