Zhang, who came into this week as the No. 1 player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, now holds two USGA titles concurrently: the Girls’ Junior and the U.S. Women’s Amateur, which she won 11 months ago at Woodmont Country Club just 8 miles from Columbia.
Zhang is the eighth player to have won both championships and the first to have won the Women’s Amateur first.
“To be able to win in such a gruelling week, it’s truly amazing,” said Zhang. “In USGA events, you really need your ‘A’ game in terms of your patience, your grit and your golf game.”
After a 3-hour, 15-minute delay for dangerous weather, Zhang fittingly closed the match in style, hitting the flagstick with her 138-yard approach on the par-4 32nd. She converted the 5-foot birdie putt – her 10th of the day – and was promptly doused with a celebratory water shower. With the Girls’ Junior cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, winning the Glenna Collett Vare Trophy was worth the wait for Zhang.
Davis couldn’t maker her own piece of USGA history. PHOTO: USGA/Kathryn Riley.
“I’m really proud of the commitment and work that I put in over the past year,” said Zhang, an incoming freshman at Stanford University. “I’ve gotten more experienced, both in how I play and how I handle myself. And after last year, it was a really special week getting to see people cheering us on.”
Zhang was relentless from her first swing on Saturday, rarely out of position at any point. She hit 16 greens in the morning round and putted for birdie on all 18 holes, constantly putting pressure on Davis. She converted six of those birdies, shooting a bogey-free, 6-under 64 (with match play concessions) to take a 4-up lead into the break.
She dropped the opening hole of the afternoon round after her drive found the fairway bunker and she made bogey. After halving the next three holes with pars, Zhang made back-to-back birdies on the 23rd and 24th holes, the latter a wedge to 4 feet that extended her lead to 5 up. She pushed her margin to 6 up at the par-3 26th after Davis hit her tee shot long and failed to get up and down.
The match looked like it could end on the par-5 30th when Davis faced a 12-foot birdie putt to stay alive, but she calmly rolled it in to match Zhang’s birdie, flashing her trademark smile to the delight of the local fans.
Zhang made her worst swing of the day at the par-3 31st, sailing her 6-iron over the green. It led to her second bogey of the day. A two-putt par by Davis extended the match, but as the players walked to the 32nd tee, the horn blew for a dangerous weather situation.
For Davis, despite the ending, it was a dream week in her home state. She may have lost the match, but she won a lot of fans in the process.
“This entire week has been unbelievable,” said Davis, who was attempting to become the first Black American female to win a USGA championship. “Based on the response from social media, I think I have touched a few girls this week. I’m going to try to respond to as many people as I can.”
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