U.S. WOMEN'S AMATEUR
Brooks Emotional in Defeat; O'Sullivan Honors Father's Friend
August 16, 2015 | Portland, Ore.
By Joey Flyntz and David Shefter, USGA
Sierra Brooks outlasted 154 competitors and remained stoic through the good times and the bad during the 156 holes she played in this week’s U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship at Portland Golf Club. On Sunday, she let it all pour out.
Golf is a game that generally rewards those who keep their emotions in check, and Brooks, 17, of Sorrento, Fla., did it masterfully all week – responding to great shots by her opponent with even better ones, making long birdie putts, and consistently overcoming bad lies with a deft short game. But once Hannah O’Sullivan tapped in to clinch a 3-and-2 win in Sunday’s championship match, there was nothing left to contain.
She gave her father and caddie, Brent, a prolonged hug on the 16th green and got choked up during her post-match interview with Fox Sports’ Natalie Gulbis and again during the official trophy presentation. With a cheerful demeanor and bright smile, Brooks developed a vast cheering section throughout the week due to her overt patriotism – she wore shirts with American flags and has an American flag perched on her golf bag – and ability to connect with kids.
“It was amazing,” said Brooks. “I had people [cheering me] on Hole 8. Hannah made a birdie, and I was 1 down and all of a sudden one guy yelled out, ‘Go Sierra,’ and then the whole crowd was like, ‘Let's go Sierra,’ and I started tearing up because it meant so much. It was just an awesome thing. It was really cool.”
Needless to say, those who watched her and interacted with her throughout the week were moved by her raw showing of emotion. The grounds crew had American flags on their carts during the week, and the crew presented her with one of them following the championship match. “They definitely have a special place in my heart. They're awesome people,” she said.
Ultimately, Brooks created a lifetime of memories this week, and her tears felt more celebratory than sullen. She made lots of new friends, from the grounds crew, Portland Golf Club staff and volunteers, host family and fans. And starting Monday she is staying in Portland to sightsee with her close friend Bethany Wu, whom she beat in Saturday’s semifinal match. But nothing can match the special week spent with her dad by her side.
“You know, just – he just constantly kept telling me, you can do it, and he constantly – he's just always supporting me and telling me he loves me and that I can do it, and having him by my side just meant so much,” she said. “I couldn't be more thankful to have a dad like him. He's such a positive influence.”
Given her showing this week and her No. 5 ranking in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking™, there will almost certainly be more tears in Brooks’ future.
The celebratory kind.
O’Sullivan Honors Father’s Late Friend
Etched on a rubber bracelet worn by Hannah O’Sullivan are the words “Fear Nothing, Attack Everything.”
It was a motto of the late Richard “Chip” Block, a fraternity brother of Greg O’Sullivan from his college days at the University of California-Davis. Block lost a three-year battle with brain cancer in July 2014, leaving behind a wife (Angie) and two elementary-school-aged children.
At the luncheon following the standing-room only funeral at the Marin (Calif.) County church, the bracelets – approximately 300 – were placed at each table. Greg brought the memento back to Chandler, Ariz., where his daughter, Hannah, saw it. Hannah had only met Block on a few occasions, but the words struck a chord.
“He actually told me he wanted me to wear it at the [U.S.] Girls’ Junior last year [in Flagstaff, Ariz.],” said Hannah. “I saw it on his wrist and the message, ‘Fear Nothing, Attack Everything,’ are some very good words to live by and a good memory to have.”
So Hannah wore the bracelet for the first time at Nassau Country Club in Glen Cove, N.Y., where she advanced to the semifinals of last year’s U.S. Women’s Amateur. Obviously, the item was a good-luck charm as well as a motivator.
“I loved that she wore it,” said Greg. “She doesn’t wear it every day, but only for every golf competition, which is amazing. We never even talk about it.”
Block’s words definitely have provided inspiration for O’Sullivan, and she capped her brilliant summer with a 3-and-2 victory over fellow 17-year-old Sierra Brooks in Sunday’s championship match of the 115th U.S. Women’s Amateur at Portland Golf Club.
Greg sent Angie Block an email Saturday night about the fact that Hannah had mentioned the bracelet to Golfweek reporter Julie Williams. Block replied “with a beautiful email” on Sunday. If she was watching from Northern California, where the O’Sullivan’s lived for 13 years before relocating to Arizona three years ago, she was no doubt beaming about Hannah’s performance.
“He was an outstanding human being,” Greg said of Chip. “He was not an average guy.”
Hannah O’Sullivan was born in Malaysia and has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area and Arizona, but Oregon has been quite a home away from home. Not only did O’Sullivan win the 115th U.S. Women’s Amateur Sunday in the Beaver State, but she also claimed the prestigious American Junior Golf Association’s Rolex Tournament of Champions at Sunriver Resorts’ Crosswater Course with a tournament-record score of 14-under 272. In May, O’Sullivan and partner Robynn Ree finished runner-up in the inaugural U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship at Bandon Dunes. She also was a medalist in her U.S. Women’s Open qualifier contested at the OGA Course in Woodburn.
“I just love it here,” said O’Sullivan. “I love the courses and the weather is perfect. I guess every time I show up here, my game is pretty solid. So, I might be coming back.”
Odds & Ends
Among those watching the afternoon round of the Women’s Amateur at Portland Golf Club was LPGA Tour Commissioner Michael Whan. His children attend Lake Mary Prep with runner-up Sierra Brooks… Following their semifinal match on Saturday, good friends Bethany Wu and Brooks, made a trek to nearby Mt. Hood…O’Sullivan is the seventh consecutive U.S. Women’s Amateur champion under the age of 20. The last non-teen to win was Amanda Blumenherst in 2008 at Eugene (Ore.) Country Club… Wake Forest volunteer assistant/LPGA Tour player Laura Diaz walked the first nine hole of the morning round. Brooks has announced her intentions to attend Wake Forest in the fall of 2016. Diaz’s husband, Kevin, is Wake Forest’s assistant coach… Next year’s championship will be held at Rolling Green Country Club in suburban Philadelphia.
Joey Flyntz is an associate writer for the USGA. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.