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CdM alumna Alyaa Abdulghany makes semifinals at U.S. Women’s Amateur Golf Championship

Newport Beach native Alyaa Abdulghany made the semifinals at the U.S. Women's Amateur Championships for the first time.
Newport Beach native Alyaa Abdulghany made the semifinals at the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championships for the first time.
(Courtesy of John McGillen)

Alyaa Abdulghany has always had a competitive spirit bigger than her 5-foot-even height.

As a junior at USC this spring, she was part of a Trojans team that was ranked No. 1 in the country by Golfweek. Dreams of an NCAA title ended in March, when sports shut down due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Abdulghany, a 2017 graduate of Corona del Mar High School, was forced indoors like everyone else as she returned home to Newport Beach.

“When we first went to lock down I was at home for a good month, not touching a club, maybe like putting on my rug,” said Abdulghany, 21. “We were hit pretty hard.”

Golf, being an individual sport where social distancing is more possible than many sports, has been one of the first to return. Abdulghany, who was the CIF State individual champion as a junior at CdM in 2015, certainly showed her talent again last week at the United States Golf Assn. Women’s Amateur Championships at Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Md.

Playing in the prestigious tournament for the fourth time, she went further than before. Abdulghany earned match play wins over Kirsty Hodgkins (University of Colorado/Australia) in the round of 64, Marissa Kirkwood (Kent State/Pennsylvania) in the round of 32, Ellie Slama (Oregon State/Oregon) in the round of 16 and Riley Smyth (University of Virginia/North Carolina) in the quarterfinals.

Abdulghany reached her first semifinal at the U.S. Amateur before losing 2 and 1 to eventual champion Rose Zhang, a 17-year-old from Irvine, on Saturday.

“My game was as best as it could have been getting ready, and I played exceptionally well in stroke play and all through match play,” Abdulghany said. “I’m really happy with how I played, even though I fell about a day short.

“[Zhang and I] actually practice at the same facility and we see each other almost every day. We’re quite good friends. It was nice to be able to play with someone like her … we expect nothing but the best from each other.”

Alyaa Abdulghany won the CIF State individual title for CdM in 2015.
Alyaa Abdulghany, shown as a Corona del Mar High School junior in 2015, won the CIF State individual title that year for the Sea Kings.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Zhang, a Stanford commit, won on the second playoff hole over USC senior and defending champion Gabriela Ruffels to win the title Sunday.

Abdulghany, who was an honorable-mention All-American this year for the second straight year, said she was proud that six Trojans — also including senior Allisen Corpuz, junior Malia Nam and incoming freshmen Brianna Navarrosa and Christine Wang — played in the tournament. USC’s six golfers were the most of any school at the U.S. Women’s Amateur; Corpuz and Nam also advanced to match play.

“I was really proud of the girls,” Abdulghany said. “It shows how good of a team we are and how hard we’ve worked. We’re just looking toward the future and things to come.

“It was pretty tough, having the season get cut short and having no championship. It was disappointing, but it’s something out of our control and we have to have to take the health concerns of not just myself but everyone around the world, and make sure that we battle COVID. It’s disappointing and it sucks, but we have to look at the bigger picture.”

The bigger picture for Abdulghany is that she is back to playing the sport she loves. She said she will compete next in the Southern California Golf Assn. Women’s Amateur Championship, which begins Monday at Goose Creek Golf Club in Mira Loma.

Abdulghany is the defending champion of the event.

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