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Emilia Migliaccio had hit a beautiful second shot, onto the green and tantalizingly close to the pin.

But Lucy Li called foul.

In Wednesday’s match-play round of the American Junior Golf Association’s East versus West Wyndham Cup at Mayacama Golf Club north of Santa Rosa, Migliaccio should not have hit her second shot when she did — because Li’s partner, Yujeong Son, was still searching for her tee shot in the rough. Miglaccio hit out of turn — a rules violation — and Li called her on it.

So after some conferencing over the rules, Migliaccio was told by a course referee to drop her ball and hit her shot again.

It’s a turn of events that might rattle even the most poised veteran, let alone someone who has just graduated high school.

Yet on Migliaccio’s second strike, she hit it even closer to the pin.

“As soon as the call was made, my first thought was, ‘Good, because I can hit it closer than that,’” Migliaccio said.

Such is the confidence level when you are one of the best young golfers in the United States. Of course, everyone on the course Wednesday morning was one of the best young golfers in the United States.

The Wyndham Cup features 40 of the top juniors in the nation playing three days of Ryder Cup-style competition.

It was a sea of blue versus red Wednesday. The blue of the west — players hailing from west of the eastern edges of Texas and North Dakota, trying to win their fifth Wyndham Cup in a row against their rivals in red to the east.

The lineup on the girls roster is especially strong.

Migliaccio, from Cary, North Carolina, is ranked No. 4 in the nation.

Her partner, rising sophomore and Stanford-commit Rachel Heck is ranked No. 2. For the west, Li — who lives in Redwood Shores and will be a sophomore in the fall — is ranked No. 3, and her partner, Son, a junior out of Norman, Oklahoma, is ranked No. 11.

The top-ranked player, Paphangkorn Tavatanakit, is also playing. The star-studded lineup holds with history — this is a tournament which boasts alumni such as Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth, Grace Park and Bubba Watson.

Play — which is open to the public — continues today, with morning foursome matches starting at 7:30 a.m. and afternoon mixed four-ball matches starting at 1 p.m. Friday will feature singles matches starting at 7:30 a.m.

There is not a ton at stake aside from bragging rights, but clearly those are worth something.

“We knew we had to play our best game,” Migliaccio said. “Lucy and Yujeong are incredible players. We’ve both played with them before. We just got momentum in the beginning and kind of stuck with it.”

The west pair went up early on the first hole, but after pulling even on two and holding the tie at three, the east team took the fourth hole and never looked back.

So while Migliaccio’s steely second strike after the foul call didn’t mark an official change in momentum, it sure felt like it. And she, in particular, did not take her foot off the gas all afternoon.

The east ended the contest after 13, up by six.

“I think she was on today,” Son said of Migliaccio.

But all four players had their moments of the sublime.

On four, Li’s second shot left her ball on the wrong side of a massive oak tree which fronts the green. Li gave the setup a cool assessment and proceeded to lift her third shot directly into the sky, after which it dropped beautifully near the cup.

On eight, Migliaccio threatened to set the West even farther back with a beautiful 30-foot putt. But Son returned the favor, sinking a clutch birdie putt that was nearly as long to tie the hole.

On the par-5 fourth hole, Heck chipped her third shot within 2 feet of the pin. Her easy birdie putt put the East up by one after two tied holes.

“Match play is always fun,” Son said. “You don’t always worry about your score; it’s just one shot at a time.”

Heck agreed.

“You play more aggressive,” she said.

Whatever the magic of match play, Migliaccio was feeling it all day. After her heady second try on six, even her long putts seemed to get the message and start falling.

Heck, who has qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open in New Jersey next week, said the rules call might have lit a fire in her partner. After the round, she remembered thinking, “You guys are going to regret it.”

But for all of the East versus West chanting and huffing and puffing, there were clearly no hard feelings — either when Li asked for the call and got it or after the round ended.

Sure, Migliaccio gave a solid fist pump after she launched the beautiful second try, but when I asked her if the out-of-turn rule was something a competitor might let slide, she was quick with her answer.

“Oh, no,” she said. It’s a clear rule and Li had every right to call it, she said.

And Li, for her part, said she was just playing the game.

“If it’s a rule, it’s not really personal,” Li said. “I still love Emilia.”

There was a lot in Migliaccio’s game to love on Wednesday. Especially if you cheer for the East.

You can reach staff columnist Kerry Benefield at 707-526-8671 and at Kerry.benefield @pressemocrat.com, on Twitter @benefield and Instagram @kerry.benefield. Podcasting on iTunes and SoundCloud “Overtime with Kerry Benefield.”

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