The 2014 USGA championship season began with the Curtis Cup Match in early June and ended with the Men’s State Team Championship in early October. Among the notable occurrences and accomplishments from the 12 amateur events was Kristen Gillman’s memorable victory in the 114th U.S. Women’s Amateur at Nassau Country Club, in Glen Cove, N.Y.
Gillman, 16, of Austin, Texas, the No. 39 seed in the 64-player draw, came from behind to win all six of her matches. Her biggest comeback occurred in the quarterfinals against Su-Hyun Oh, of Australia, when she overcame a 4-hole deficit after 12 holes to win in 20 holes.
In the championship match, Gillman was 3 down after 26 holes before defeating Brooke Mackenzie Henderson, of Canada, 2 up. Gillman birdied three of her final four holes against Oh, and four of her final seven holes vs. Henderson, then the No. 2 player in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking™.
“She was throwing darts, and that definitely affected my game a little bit,” said Henderson, who has since assumed the No. 1 world ranking. “I was trying to match it, and a couple holes I was able to, and others I just didn’t.”
The breakdown of Gillman’s match-play deficits and results:
R64:1 down after 15 holes vs. Taylor Totland (1-up win); R32: 2 down after 6 holes vs. Celine Boutier (20 holes); R16: 1 down after 3 holes vs. Casey Danielson (5 and 3); Quarterfinal: 4 down after 12 holes vs. Su-Hyun Oh (20 holes); Semifinal: 1 down after 6 holes vs. Andrea Lee (4 and 3); Final: 3 down after 26, 2 down after 29 vs. Brooke Mackenzie Henderson (2 up).
Also from the Women’s Amateur:
• The semifinals included one 15-year-old and three 16-year-olds, the youngest semifinal field in championship history, younger than the 2014 U.S. Girls’ Junior semifinal quartet of one 16-year-old and three 17-year–olds.
• Karah Sanford, 12, the youngest player in the championship, qualified for the match-play bracket. Sanford was diagnosed with scoliosis at age 10.
• Four pairs of sisters were in the field at Nassau, and in each case, one qualified for match play and one did not.
• Hardest hole: 433-yard, par-4 12th (4.52 stroke average)
U.S. Amateur (Atlanta Athletic Club, Highlands and Riverside Courses, Johns Creek, Ga.):
• Gunn Yang became the second Korean-born player to win the U.S. Amateur, joining Byeong-Hun “Ben” An, who claimed the title in 2009. Yang was No. 776 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking™ entering the week, 732 spots behind Corey Connors, the other finalist (No. 44).
• Finalist Corey Conners, who reached the semifinals in 2013, was seeking to become the first champion from Canada since Gary Cowan won his second title in 1971.
• Four-time U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Nathan Smith advanced to the quarterfinals, his deepest run in the U.S. Amateur in 14 tries. Smith, 36, reached the Round of 16 in 2000.
• Hardest hole: 513-yard, par-4 second hole of the Highlands Course (4.52 stroke average)
Curtis Cup Match (St. Louis Country Club, St. Louis, Mo.)
• 2013 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Emma Talley secured the winning point in the USA’s 13-7 victory over Great Britain and Ireland.
• Mariah Stackhouse of the USA became the first African American to play in the Curtis Cup.
• The Walker Cup and Curtis Cup were regained in consecutive years by captains from St. Louis: Jim Holtgrieve and Ellen Port.
Amateur Public Links (Sand Creek Station Golf Course, Newton, Kan.)
• Champion Byron Meth and runner-up Doug Ghim were the first co-medalists to reach the championship match since 1929. Meth became the 11th medalist to win the APL in its 89th – and final – playing.
• Jess Bonneau, 43, of Houston, was the oldest quarterfinalist by more than two decades. The average age of the APL field was 22.3 years.
• Ken Towns, 86, who won the 1949 Amateur Public Links in his native California, was among the champions who attended the final APL, 65 years after his victory.
• Toughest hole: 494-yard, par-4 16th (4.52 stroke average)
Women’s Amateur Public Links (The Home Course, DuPont, Wash.)
• Fumie (Alice) Jo won the 38th and final WAPL. She is the first USGA champion from the People’s Republic of China, and at age 15 became the second-youngest WAPL champion.
• Runner-up Eun Jeong Seong, 14, of the Republic of Korea, set 18-hole and 36-hole WAPL stroke-play qualifying records, with an 8-under-par 64 and a 10-under 134 total.
• The Seong-Jo championship match was the first all-international final in WAPL history.
• Hardest hole: 385-yard, par-4 seventh (4.50 stroke average)
Junior Amateur (The Club at Carlton Woods, Nicklaus Course, The Woodlands, Texas)
• Will Zalatoris, 17, of Plano, Texas, won the U.S. Junior in his home state. Zalatoris continued a strong Texas run in the Junior, as he gave the Lone Star State five of the past eight U.S. Junior champions: Scottie Scheffler (2013), Jordan Spieth (2011, 2009) and Cory Whitsett (2007).
• Davis Riley, 17, of Hattiesburg, Miss., became the first player to finish runner-up in consecutive years. Twice before, a player had finished runner-up and won in the ensuing year.
• The par-5 18th hole featured two victorious chip-ins from above the hole in the Round of 64, by John Pak, of Scotch Plains, N.J., and Ashwin Arasu, of San Diego, Calif. Arasu had to win holes 16 and 17 to square his match and set up his “walk-off” victory on No. 18.
• Hardest hole: 432-yard, par-4 15th (4.51 stroke average)
Girls’ Junior (Forest Highlands Golf Club, Flagstaff, Ariz.)
• Princess Mary Superal became the first Filipino-born USGA champion.
• The Superal-Marijosse final was the fourth all-international championship match in Girls’ Junior history.
• From the quarterfinals on, every match went at least 18 holes, a first in Girls’ Junior history.
• Anita Uwadia became the first Nigerian-born player to compete in a USGA championship.
• Toughest hole: 144-yard, par-3 eighth (3.42 stroke average)
Mid-Amateur (Saucon Valley Country Club, Old and Weyhill Courses, Bethlehem, Pa.)
• The championship match between Scott Harvey and Brad Nurski was the first between co-medalists since 2010, when Nathan Smith defeated Tim Hogarth. Harvey, the 2014 champion, was also a co-medalist that year.
• Finalist Brad Nurski was attempting to become the first left-handed champion in Mid-Amateur history, and the sixth in USGA history.
• Relatives of two former NFL standouts competed. T.J. Brudzinski, the brother of former Miami Dolphins linebacker Bob Brudzinksi, advanced to the Round of 32, while Stephen Cox, the son of former Washington Redskins kicker Steve Cox, narrowly missed the match-play cut.
• After 28 years and 45 attempts, Randy Lance, of The Woodlands, Texas, competed in his first USGA championship. Lance missed the cut for match play.
• Hardest hole: 494-yard, par-4 16th (4.90 stroke average)
Women’s Mid-Amateur (Harbour Trees Golf Club, Noblesville, Ind.)
• For the first time in its 28-year history, the previous year’s finalists returned to the championship match, with Margaret Shirley turning the tables on 2013 champion Julia Potter, 5 and 3.
• This was the fourth time in championship history that the final match included two players in their 20s, and the second back-to-back occurrence. It happened in 1993, 1994, 2013 and 2014.
• Five players from Indiana qualified for the championship in their home state, and all five Hoosiers made the 64-player match-play draw. Potter, of Granger, Ind., the 2013 champion, advanced the farthest, losing to Shirley in the championship match.
• Taffy Brower, 69, of Boynton Beach, Fla., the oldest player in the field, played in the first U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur in 1987. A stroke-play co-medalist in 2002, she has competed in the championship in four decades (1980s, 1990s, 2000s and 2010s).
• Toughest hole: 356-yard, par-4 10th (4.94)
Senior Amateur (Big Canyon Country Club, Newport Beach, Calif.)
• Pat Tallent, 61, of Vienna, Va., won the U.S. Senior Amateur for his first USGA title in his 27th USGA championship start. He was the runner-up in the 2010 Senior Amateur to Paul Simson.
• After an opening round of 79, Tallent needed to play 4-under-par golf over his final 12 holes of stroke-play qualifying to get into a playoff for the 64-player match-play draw. At No. 60, Tallent is the lowest seed to win the Senior Amateur since the USGA began seeding players in 1992.
• Stroke-play medalist Alan Fadel, of Toledo, Ohio, lost in the Round of 32, making it 27 years since a medalist won the Senior Amateur, the longest current streak for any USGA championship. John Richardson was the last medalist to win, in 1987.
• Toughest hole: 418-yard, par-4 10th (4.52)
Senior Women’s Amateur (Hollywood Golf Club, Deal, N.J.)
• Joan Higgins became the third player to win both the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur and U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur championships, joining Carol Semple Thompson and Ellen Port.
• Higgins came from behind to win in the quarterfinals (3 down after eight), semifinals (1 down after seven) and final (1 down after 13).
• Louella Kanew advanced to the Round of 16 just eight months after undergoing a double mastectomy.
• In a rematch of the 2011 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur final, Martha Leach defeated medalist and two-time defending champion Ellen Port in the Round of 32. Port prevailed in 2011.
• Hardest hole: 402-yard, par-4 first (5.0)
Men’s State Team (French Lick Resort, Pete Dye Course, French Lick, Ind.)
• Texas won a record fourth USGA Men’s State Team Championship, as all three players had two of their three rounds count toward the team score.
• Will Grimmer, 17, of Cincinnati, played in his fourth USGA championship of the year, following the U.S. Open, U.S. Junior and U.S. Amateur. It was also the fourth USGA championship of 2014 for Sam Horsfield of Florida (APL, Junior Amateur, U.S. Amateur) and Mike McCoy of Iowa (Senior Open, U.S. Amateur, Mid-Amateur).
• Hawaii fielded the youngest team: Andrew Chin (15), Ben Grant (18) and Tyler Ota (20).
• Toughest hole: 436-yard, par-4 first (4.45)
• Three 2014 USGA champions were medalists or co-medalists in their championship: Byron Meth, U.S. Amateur Public Links; Margaret Shirley, U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur; and Scott Harvey, U.S. Mid-Amateur.
• The 2014 U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur final paired 2013 finalists Julia Potter and Margaret Shirley, only the third known rematch of match-play finalists from the previous year in USGA history. Others were, in 1937-1938: Estelle Lawson Page and Patty Berg (U.S. Women’s Amateur); and in 1956-1957: J. Clark Espie and Frederick Wright (U.S. Senior Amateur). In all three instances, the players split the titles.
• Toughest holes of 2014: For men, Mid-Amateur: 494-yard, par-4 16th hole on the Old Course at Saucon Valley (4.90 stroke average); For women, Senior Women’s Amateur: 402-yard, par-4 first hole at Hollywood Golf Club (5.00 stroke average)
Joey Flyntz is an associate writer for the USGA. Email him at email@example.com. Ron Driscoll is the manager of editorial services for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.