Annie Thurman (now Young) made history at the 2002 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship at Sunriver (Ore.) Resort’s Meadows Course, becoming the first female from the state of Utah to win a USGA championship. Then 19 and a rising sophomore at Oklahoma State University, Thurman, of Highland, Utah, defeated Hwanhee Lee, of Long Beach, Calif., 6 and 5, in the first 36-hole final in WAPL history. Thurman was a member of the victorious 2004 USA Curtis Cup Team, going 3-1-0 in the Match at Formby in England. After she graduated from OSU, she played on the Futures and LPGA Tour for three years before getting into coaching, first at her alma mater for 2½ years, then at Cal State-Northridge for a year and currently at Colorado State, where she completed her first season. Young also has regained her amateur status, but has yet to play in a USGA championship since.
What was it like being the first female champion from Utah?
It was quite an accomplishment at the time. It still is, I guess. I did get some big exemptions like the Men’s State Amateur. A woman had never played in it, so it was kind of fun.
Is there any moment that stands out from the week in Oregon?
Not so much golf-wise. There were plenty of stories. My mom was there with us. She didn’t know if we were going to stay the rest of the week, so if I didn’t win, we were leaving immediately. So the whole week, she was checking us out of the hotel and I didn’t find this out until the final that she was doing that all week. What kind of faith is that? I guess [she didn’t have much confidence in me] or she wanted to save a dime or two.
Was it true that you almost never made it to Sunriver?
I actually wasn’t going to do the [sectional] qualifier because I was pretty burned out from college golf. But my dad convinced me to just go do the qualifier. So I qualified and I thought [Sunriver] was a nice place. I didn’t think I was going to win the tournament. I just played the game and I love match play. I knew if I could get into match play, I would have a chance.
Since your dad could not come to Sunriver, you decided to put good friend and ex-high school basketball teammate Lana Sitterud on your bag. That seemed to be a good move. How did she factor into your success.
She was playing basketball at the University of Utah. It actually worked out really well. She didn’t know much about golf. She plays, but not a whole lot. It was more conversations about boys and what we were doing when were done playing that day. She’s very competitive so she knew when we needed to focus and when it was OK to chat things up and have a good time out there.
Sunriver had these famous – or we thought they were famous – brownies at the resort and [my mom] always made sure that my caddie had a brownie at the turn.
You led or were all square for all but three holes the entire week. Just how well were you playing?
I’m telling you, in match play I do OK. I’ve just got to get to match play.
Obviously, you had played a lot of 36-hole rounds in college, but how was your stamina going into the first 36-hole final in WAPL history?
That wasn’t the issue. But when we took the lunch break, I was sick to my stomach, thinking why can’t we just get out there and finish. I think I had a pretty good lead at the break (5 up), but I just wanted to get it done with. I guess I could have enjoyed the moment a little better. I was trying to put the pedal to the metal and not give her a chance to come back. It was just nerves. I don’t think I ate much at [lunch] because of how nervous I was.
Now that you have your amateur status back, any thoughts of trying to qualify for the final WAPL?
I’d love to, but my game is not where it was. It’s time for the young kids to finish on a good note. But I am excited about the new [Women’s Amateur Four-Ball] tournament. I think it’s going to be a good one. I think I can get my game ready by then (May 2015). I might have to find a partner who can carry me, though.
David Shefter is a senior writer with the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.