HUNTINGTON BEACH — Three down, two to go for Courtney Conlogue.
The 20-year-old Sage Hill School alumna took the next step forward in her title quest Saturday at the Vans U.S. Open of Surfing by winning her Women's quarterfinal heat. Conlogue led the entire way in turning away Laura Enever of Australia, a win that sends the Santa Ana resident on to Sunday's semifinals.
"I'm thrilled," Conlogue said moments after she completed her third heat victory in three attempts, this one putting her into the semifinal round for the first time since she won the Open Women's title in 2009.
"It feels fantastic to be back in the semifinals for the first time in four years," she said. "I'm glad to get this heat out of the way."
Conlogue is part of a Final Four field that includes Tyler Wright (Australia), Carissa Moore (Hawaii) and Pauline Ado (France).
Conlogue, ranked fourth in the Assn. of Surfing Professionals World Women's Title rankings, will face off against Wright who is ranked No. 1. The two will surf the first Women's semifinal heat Sunday morning, starting at 10. Moore will battle Ado in the second semifinal.
The semifinal winners will square off for the Women's title Sunday afternoon.
The winner of the Women's title earns $15,000.
Conlogue had Saturday's heat go her way as she once again took charge right off the bat. She won it with a best two-wave score of 12.63. Enever scored a 9.66.
Conlogue was active in an otherwise slow heat.
"I got off to a quick start again but had medium scores to show for it," she said. "I was able to maintain the lead but when Laura hit that one score (6.83), I was like, 'Uh-oh.'"
Quick starts have been Conlogue's ticket to the semifinals.
In her first heat of the competition Tuesday, a heat that included Enever who placed third and second-place Rebecca Woods (Australia), Conlogue led from start to finish. In her second heat Thursday, she never trailed against Silvana Lima (Brazil) or five-time World Champion Stephanie Gilmore (Australia).
Enever was in her fifth heat of the competition Saturday and has surfed heats daily since Tuesday. She reached the quarterfinals by eliminating Gilmore in a Friday Round 4 heat.
Within the first 30 seconds of the quarterfinal heat, Conlogue was up and riding. She earned a first-wave score of 4.33 to open up a lead then took her second wave toward the pier and through the pylons — a move she also made during Tuesday's heat victory, to the north side. It earned her a score of 6.33.
Enever, ranked ninth in the World, sat back for the first 7 1/2 minutes of the heat but on her first wave, was awarded a score of 6.83.
It would be the top wave score of the heat.
"That caught my attention, for sure," Conlogue said. "But I just kept going and continued at my pace. There was plenty of time left on the clock."
Conlogue was scored on seven waves. On the same wave that Enever, who was scored on just three waves, hit her 6.83, Conlogue scored a 5.83. She later posted scores of 5.40 and 6.30, the last score coming just before the heat clock expired.
Enever's other top wave score was a 2.83 and it came with 5:10 remaining.