A week after going 3-0 in the American Junior Golf Association’s Wyndham Cup leading West to a resounding victory, the 15-year-old continued her recent unblemished mark in the head-to-head format. winning the 73rd US Girls’ Junior Championship at The Club at Olde Stone with a 3&2 win over Gianna Clemente in Saturday’s 36-hole final.
Wilson, last year’s US Girls’ Junior quarter-finalist (she fell to eventual champion and world No. 1 Rose Zhang), went 6-0 in match play over the past four days of extreme heat and humidity – Saturday’s heat index hit the low triple digits – to add his name to the pantheon of legendary champions who etched their names on the Glenna Collett Vare Trophy.
The title also comes with an exemption for the 78th US Women’s Open presented by ProMedica next July at the iconic Pebble Beach Golf Links. A number of US Women’s Open champions have won the US Girls’ Junior, including Mickey Wright, JoAnne Gunderson Carner, Hollis Stacy, Amy Alcott, Inbee Park, Ariya Jutanugarn and last month’s champion Minjee Lee.
Yana Wilson gets soaked in water after winning the US Girls Junior. PHOTO: USGA.
“It means a lot,” said Wilson, a two-time Drive, Chip & Putt 12-13 champion. “Today I looked at the boards going up to hole 1, and I saw that a lot of the girls who won the US Girls’ Junior had won the US Open, and they really became legends. I hope one day I can join them.
The rising high school junior has already built quite a resume, including an outright win over Anna Davis to win the Annika Invitational in Orlando, Florida earlier this year when she landed a 75-yard corner shot during the first dam. hole. That made Wilson 10 of 11 in the play-offs, a stat she says made her difficult in match play. In 2020, at age 14, she won the Joanne Winter Arizona Silver Belle, becoming the youngest champion in an event that dates back to 1971.
“Honestly, I try not to be affected by little things,” Wilson said, “and sometimes I feel like the opponents I’m playing against are really fiery, and if things don’t go the way they want it, they get angry. I feel like I’m just a very stable player.
No more than in the afternoon of the final. Trailing 1-down on the 26th green, Wilson had a golden chance to tie the game, but misfired his putt. But she didn’t let the setback affect her attitude. And on the next hole, a par-5, she threw two putts from 50 feet for a game-winning birdie.
RIGHT: Aussie Justice Bosio advanced to the quarter-finals with Tour pro Steph Na on the bag. PHOTO: USGA.
When Clemente failed to get up and down for par from a greenside bunker on the par-4 28th hole, Wilson took the lead for good. Along the way, she converted several putts of 6 feet or less to tie or win holes.
Clemente, who in 2019 became the third-youngest player to qualify for the US Women’s Amateur, has never thrown her putter. At least not like Friday’s semifinal when she converted eight birdies in an impressive 6-and-5 victory over Maria Jose Marin of Colombia.
Thursday morning in the round of 16, she rallied from 4-down with eight remaining to defeat Adrian Anderson, 2-up, a run that included three birdies.
But on Saturday, she put out a 12-footer for a birdie on the 274-yard, par-4 32nd hole that could have halved a 2-try deficit. She also threw three putts 60 feet on the 33rd hole, missing an 8-foot par attempt to go down 3. Even her final return effort on the 149-yard 34th hole missed inches as her 15-footer for a birdie didn’t have enough speed.
“I think I really need to do some work,” said Clemente, who also appeared in last week’s Wyndham Cup for the East and went 0-2 against Wilson in fourball and foursomes . “But I played well. I can’t complain about winning five games. You just have to move on to the next one. I’m going to go home to rest and prepare for the [U.S. Women’s Amateur in a couple of weeks].”
“Today I looked at the boards going up to hole 1, and I saw that a lot of the girls who won the US Girls’ Junior had won the US Open, and they really became legends. I hope one day I can join them. – Yana Wilson.
At the end of the match, Wilson, along with a small group of supporters consisting mostly of the grandchildren of two-time US Senior Open champion Kenny Perry, were doused in water before receiving the trophy and receiving the gold medal. gold in a ceremony on the putting green. .
It had been a long day and a tough match, with no player holding more than a 1 lead over the first 30 holes. Morning 18 ended with Wilson taking the lead into the lunch break when she nearly hit her fourth shot for 549 yards, par 5, and Clemente missed a 6-footer for par.
“It was a bit brutal here today,” Wilson said of the sweltering heat. “I was telling my caddy (Tate Hanks) that I wasn’t trying to say it too loud so Gia wouldn’t hear me complaining. I just tried to keep it as cool as possible. TaylorMade gave me a umbrella, so I used it. It was so helpful this week. I put my face like in the cooler over there for a little while.
Aussie Justice Bosio cruised into the quarter-finals in an impressive run before ending at the hands of Clemente by a 2&1 margin.
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