U.S. WOMEN'S AMATEUR
Seong Worthy Champion, But Everyone Won at Rolling Green
August 7, 2016 | Springfield, Pa.
By Joey Flyntz, USGA
The record books will always state that Eun Jeong Seong defeated Virginia Elena Carta, 1 up, in the 116th U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship at Rolling Green Golf Club. The conditions of the competition state that there had to be a winner. What the record won’t state, but anyone who watched knows without a doubt, is that there were no losers.
With two of the world’s elite amateurs chasing history – Seong becoming the first player to win the U.S. Girls’ Junior and U.S. Women’s Amateur in the same year, and Carta trying to become the second player to win the NCAA championship and Women’s Amateur in the same year – on a course and club that received rave reviews all week long, a dramatic match was expected.
Expectations were met, and then some.
Neither player owned more than a 2-up lead over 36 holes. Carta, 19, of Italy, overcame a dizzy spell that forced a 15-minute delay after the 31st hole, and then staved off what looked like certain elimination on the 35th hole in jaw-dropping fashion. Down two, Carta needed to bury a 30-foot putt up a hill from off the green to have a chance. She did. Then she needed Seong to miss a 10-footer. She burned the right edge.
With the large gallery of approximately 500 abuzz in a mix of disbelief and excitement, the match headed to the 36th hole, where Rolling Green had one more dose of drama on the menu.
With both players on in two, Carta was “ready to make one more putt and go to a playoff hole.” But she never got the opportunity. Seong, 16, of the Republic of Korea, one-upped Carta’s long putt with a 40-footer to win the championship.
The crowd erupted once again and Seong was mobbed by friends on the green. The one person at Rolling Green who would have been warranted not to join the celebration was Carta. Yet there she was, standing on the center of the green joining in the applause with everyone else.
“I don’t think I actually lost the match, the championship,” said Carta. “Of course, I did not win it, but at the same time, it’s not like saying I lost today.”
The supportive crowd added to the atmosphere, not only during the championship match, but throughout the week. Carta undoubtedly won a lot of hearts due to Philadelphia’s large Italian population. But it wasn’t a pro-Italy crowd as much as it was a pro-great golf crowd. And they got what they came for.
“It was just great having them, and the crowd on 17 when I made the putt, that was pretty impressive. I think having the support of everyone here was great,” said Carta. “They were super fair, because they were clapping for both of us, if I made a putt or she made a putt, and no matter the situation, when she was walking into the green, they were clapping for her.”
Seong is quickly becoming one of the more decorated players in the history of USGA amateur competitions, and is running out of things to accomplish on this level. But the three-time USGA champion did experience a first on Sunday: Her mother saw her win a USGA title in person for the first time.
“Yeah [that was] special to me,” said Seong. “After 18, she was crying a little bit, but it’s OK. She’s just happy now.”
Once the cameras were done rolling, the Robert Cox Trophy presented and the crowd dissipated, Seong’s mother could be seen approaching Carta and her caddie in a mostly empty clubhouse to offer her congratulations through a translator and embrace the runner-up in a showing of heartfelt appreciation and respect.
Eun Jeong Seong left Rolling Green Golf Club to enjoy the spoils that come with winning the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship. And everyone else left still trying to process the great golf they witnessed. Nobody went home a loser.
Joey Flyntz is an associate writer for the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.