CHARLESTON, S.C. – These days, the number everyone likes to discuss is 59. When Tiger Woods got off to a hot start last week at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone, Golf Channel put up a graphic in the lower-right corner of the screen informing viewers of the 59 watch. Woods settled for a career-low round of 61.
No player has ever produced a 59 in USGA annals, although Billy Horschel came extremely close at the 2006 U.S. Amateur, carding a 60 at Chaska (Minn.) Town Course, the companion stroke-play qualifying venue to Hazeltine National Golf Club.
In terms of USGA Open championships, the lowest score ever produced was a 62 by Loren Roberts at the 2006 U.S. Senior Open at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kan.
On Tuesday, 14-year-old Yumi Matsubara, of Japan, registered the lowest 18-hole score in U.S. Women’s Amateur history. Her bogey-free, 7-under 64 at the Country Club of Charleston was one stroke better than Rachel Rohanna’s previous record, shot at Charlotte (N.C.) Country Club three years ago.
So where does the 64 fit among the lowest female scores in USGA championships?
Only six players have ever shot lower, and three others have matched it.
While no female has challenged the magical 59, Christina Kim and Kimberly Kim each produced 62s at the U.S. Girls’ Junior, six years apart. Before Horschel’s 60, Christina Kim’s 62 in 2001 at Indian Hills Country Club in Mission Hills, Kan., was the lowest 18-hole score in USGA history.
Kimberly Kim matched that number in 2007 at Tacoma Country and Golf Club in Lakewood, Wash., a year after becoming the youngest champion in U.S. Women’s Amateur history.
Three 63s have also been shot at the U.S. Girls’ Junior: Taylore Karle and Angela Park in 2005 at BanBury Golf Club in Eagle, Idaho, and Lisa McCloskey in 2008 at Hartford Golf Club in West Hartford, Conn.
Before Christina Kim’s feat, Helen Alfredsson owned the lowest 18-hole female score, carding a 63 at the 1994 U.S. Women’s Open at Indianwood Golf and Country Club in Lake Orion, Mich.
Five years later, Kelli Kuehne, Lorie Kane and Becky Iverson all shot 64s in the Women’s Open at Old Waverly Country Club in West Point, Miss.
Interesting enough, none of the aforementioned female golfers went on to win their respective championships. Patty Sheehan and Juli Inkster won the two respective Women’s Opens. Nicole Perrot claimed the 2001 Girls’ Junior, while Kristen Park won the 2007 event.
Matsubara will hope to carry her stroke-play qualifying momentum into match play and become the first medalist to win the U.S. Women’s Amateur since Amanda Blumenherst, five years ago at Eugene (Ore.) Country Club.
David Shefter is a senior staff writer with the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.