Posted: June 23, 2015 8:59 pm
The only amateur to win the U.S. Women’s Open was Catherine Lacoste – of France and the polo-shirt Lacostes – in 1967.
This despite the fact that the Women’s Open is probably easier to get in than the men’s. Women seem to rise to world class faster and younger than men (Jordan Spieth notwithstanding). There’s no local qualifying to slog through, and fewer obscure club or mini-tour pros to beat.
Of the field of 156 at Lancaster Country Club next month, 26, or one of every six, will be amateurs. You probably haven’t heard of any of them, and none of them are likely to join Leccoste, but here are five to watch:
Emma Talley – A 21 year-old junior at Alabama, Talley is the eighth-ranked amateur in the world and probably has the strongest resume of the amateurs who’ll be in Lancaster.
She won the NCAA individual championship last month in Florida, and won the 2013 U.S. Women’s Amateur. Last summer, she played in the USWO, Women’s British Open and LPGA championship, making the cut in the first two and finishing 17th overall, and low amateur, in the British.
Celine Boutier – Duke University senior-to-be from France was No. 1 in the world amateur rankings in February of this year. She dropped to 10th before jumping to fifth by winning the British Women’s Amateur June 13 in Northern Ireland. (The WAGR seems to underrate college golf, for some reason.)
Boutier won the European Ladies’ Amateur in 2013, and was consensus national college player of the year in 2014, and led Duke to the NCAA team championship.
Kristen Gillman – In an amazing two-week stretch last August, Gillman, 17, of Austin, Tex., won the PGA National Junior by 11 shots, and then the U.S. Women’s Amateur, in her first try, beating current world No. 49 Brooke Henderson in the match-play final.
Gillman has another year left of high school, but this will be her third major – she received sponsor’s exemptions to last year’s Evian Championship and this year’s ANA Inspiration. No. 17 in the world amateur rankings, She is committed to the University of Alabama.
Gaby Lopez – Completed junior season at Arkansas with a final-round 66 that left her one shot short of Talley for the NCAA individual title. Three-time all-American who will be playing in her third USWO. She is playing in this week’s LPGA Walmart Northwest Arkansas Championship on a sponsor’s exemption for the second straight year.
Hannah O’Sullivan – We won’t have an 11 year-old in this year’s USWO, like Lucy Li a year ago. But we will have O’Sullivan. who became the youngest champion in the history of the Symetra Tour by winning the Gateway Classic in Mesa, Ariz, in February at age 16.
O’Sullivan, who lives in Chandler, Ariz., made the semifinals of last year’s U.S. Women’s Am, and won the California State Amateur at age 12. She is committed to attend USC.