SANTA ANA PUEBLO, N.M. -- In 12 years as a caddie on the LPGA Tour, Carl Laib carried the bags of some of the game's best. Now, he's convinced he's found a future star in amateur Jody Niemann.
Niemann, who graduated from Arizona State this year, moved into the semifinals of the U.S. Women's Public Links Championship with two match-play victories Friday at the Santa Ana Golf Club Course.With Laib at her side, Niemann beat Kelly Schaub of Greeley, Colo., 5-4 in the third round Friday morning, then rallied from four holes down to eliminate Brigham Young's Carrie Summerhays on the first playoff hole in the quarterfinals.
"This girl's got game and she's got heart," said Laib, who on the LPGA caddied for Betsy King and Patty Sheehan.
Niemann, 22, will take on Brittany Straza, 18, of Fort Myers, Fla., in Saturday's semifinals. In the other match, Dorothy Delasin, 18, of Daly City, Calif., meets Sue Billek-Nyhus, 36, of West Valley City, Utah, and the assistant coach of the BYU women's golf team.
Straza reached the semifinals with a 4-3 win over Jordan Lintz of Rapid City, S.D.; Delasin beat Angie Yoon of San Diego, 3 and 2, and Billek-Nyhus defeated Jill Gomric of Belleville, Ill, 2-up in the quarterfinals.
Niemann lost four of the first five holes to Summerhays, then won the first three holes on the back nine with two pars and a chip-in for birdie on the par-3 12th.
Billek-Nyhus hasn't had the largest gallery at the tournament this week, but she does have the youngest. The mother of three girls, Stina, 7, Kimberly, 5, and Katie, 18 months, has been juggling parenthood and golf with impressive efficiency.
"I definitely have other priorities," said the Utah golfer during a post victory interview attended by her three girls.
She was three-down after eight holes, but took command of her match on the back nine.
Billek-Nyhus also is aware that no one over the age of 22 has ever won this tournament in its 23-year history.
"Yes, I'm the old lady," she said after her quarterfinal win. "But there's a lot to be said for maturity in golf."
PGA CLUB PRO: Rick Schuller shot a 4-under-par 68 Friday to take a two-stroke lead after two rounds of the 32nd PGA Club Professional Championship at Haven, Wis.
The Centreville, Va., pro, one of a record eight golfers tied for the first-round lead at 70, finished two rounds at 138 despite bogeys on two of his last three holes.
At 140 after another 70 was Jeff Freeman of Palm Desert, Calif. At 141 were Christopher Toulson of Miami, who shot a 71, and Milan Swilor of Sandy, Utah, who had a 69.