U.S. WOMEN'S AMATEUR
Gillman Posts 7-and-6 Win to Claim Second Women’s Am Title August 11, 2018 | Kingston Springs, Tenn. By David Shefter, USGA

118th U.S. Women’s Amateur | #USWomensAm
The Golf Club of Tennessee, Kingston Springs, Tenn.
36-Hole Championship Match | Par 71, 6,328 yards/6,384 (Morning 18/Afternoon 18)
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What Happened

Kristen Gillman will have her name etched on the Robert Cox Trophy for a second time.

The 20-year-old from Austin, Texas, who is a junior at the University of Alabama, registered nine birdies over 30 holes on Sunday in beating incoming Alabama junior-college transfer Jiwon Jeon, 21, of the Republic of Korea, 7 and 6, in the 36-hole final of the 118th U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship at The Golf Club of Tennessee.

Gillman, who first won this championship as a 16-year-old in 2014 at Nassau Country Club in Glen Cove, N.Y., became the first to win non-consecutive multiple titles since Vicki Goetze (1989, 1992). It also was the largest margin of victory since Morgan Pressel’s 9-and-8 triumph in 2005 at Ansley Golf Club’s Settindown Creek Course in Roswell, Ga.

VIDEO: Interview With 2018 Champion Kristen Gillman

“Yeah, it’s really cool to be able to have it on there again,” said Gillman. “Everyone who was playing in this tournament was picturing their name on it at the end of the week, so it’s really nice to be able to do that and accomplish that.

“I think this one was a lot harder to win because after the first one I won, it was my first time playing [in the U.S. Women’s Amateur], and so I was kind of new to it. But every time I come back now, I’ve always talked about how – like this week, I was the only champion in the field – it kind of brings a little bit more pressure along with it. But I think it also makes the victory a little sweeter, too.”

Unlike her two matches leading into the final in which she didn’t take a lead until the 19th hole – Lucy Li in the Quarterfinals and Kaylee Benton in the Semifinals – Gillman took charge of this match early, leading by as many as seven holes in the morning 18 before losing the last two holes for a 5-up lead at the lunch break.

Following nearly a two-hour break, Gillman, No. 6 in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking™ (WAGR), came out for the second 18 and immediately won the 19th hole with a par and went 7 up with a two-putt par on the 22nd hole.

Jeon, No. 10 in the WAGR, managed to win holes 23, 25 and 27, but that still left her 6 down after 27 holes. Gillman’s 15-foot birdie on the par-3 28th returned her advantage to 7 up and the two halved the final two holes of the match.

“Well, she was very consistent all day,” Jeon said of Gillman. “It was a little difficult for me to catch up on her. But that is the one I cannot control. So I was trying to play my best. I didn’t play my best today, but I tried my best on the course. I really appreciate that she played great today, and I’m really happy [win my performance this week].”

When the match ended, Gillman was emotional after hugging her parents, knowing she was now in a rare group of multiple champions, a list that includes legends such as JoAnne Gunderson Carner, Anne Sander, Beth Daniel and Juli Inkster as well as 2017 major champion Danielle Kang.

“It was definitely more emotional to win this time,” said Gillman. “And my mom (Laura) wasn’t able to come the first time, so she flew here last night to watch me play in the final match. So it was really cool to have her be able to be here, too, to experience this win because I know that last time she wanted to be here, but she just had eye surgery, so she couldn't fly.”

Kristen Gillman not only won the Robert Cox Trophy for a second time, but the club gave her a guitar as a keepsake. (USGA/Steven Gibbons)

What Champion Receives

Kristen Gillman earned the following for winning the 118th U.S. Women's Amateur:

  • Possession of Robert Cox Trophy for one year
  • A gold medal
  • 10-year exemption into U.S. Women's Amateur Championship
  • Exemption into 2019 U.S. Women's Open at Country Club of Charleston (provided she is still an amateur)
  • Exemption into 2018 Evian Championship (provided she is still an amateur)
  • Exemption into 2019 ANA Inspiration (provide she is still an amateur)
  • Exemption into 2019 Women's British Open (provided she is still an amateur)
  • Automatic selection to 2018 USA Women's World Amateur Team

Notable

  • Kristen Gillman shot the equivalent of 3-under 68 in the morning 18, with the usual match-play concessions, while Jiwon Jeon shot a 4-over 75.

  • Gillman’s 7-up lead through 16 holes was her largest in any match since she began competing in the U.S. Women’s Amateur four years ago. The largest lead after 18 holes in the U.S. Women’s Amateur is 12 by Anne Sander in 1961. Sander defeated Phyllis Preuss, 14 and 13, which remains the largest margin of victory in championship history.

  • Gillman’s four-year span between titles is the second-largest in USGA history. Dorothy Campbell Hurd had a 14-year period between titles, winning in 1910 and again in 1924. Margaret Curtis also had a four-year span between titles, winning her first in 1907 and second in 1911. She also won again in 1912.

  • Jeon was bidding to become the fifth Korean-born champion but settled for the second Korean runner-up after Jimin Kang lost the 1999 final to Dorothy Delasin. Pearl Sinn (1988), Grace Park (1998), Lydia Ko (2012) and Eun Jeong Seong (2016) are the four Korean-born champions. Ko was born in Korea, but moved to New Zealand at a young age, while Sinn became an American citizen and represented the USA in the 1988 Curtis Cup Match and Women’s World Amateur Team Championship.

  • Jeon received a silver medal for her runner-up showing, plus an exemption into next year’s U.S. Women’s Open, provided she is still an amateur. The runner-up also receives a three-year U.S. Women’s Amateur exemption.

  • Jeon came into the U.S. Women’s Amateur as the 2018 NJCAA individual champion for Daytona (Fla.) State Junior College, where she won eight individual titles the past two years before signing with Alabama.

  • Gillman served as Jeon’s host when she took her recruiting trip to Alabama last fall.

  • Gillman’s mom, Laura, flew in from Austin, Texas, on Saturday to attend the final. She was not in attendance when Kristen won in 2014.

  • This summer, Gillman tied for 27th in the U.S. Women’s Open, became the third player in Curtis Cup history go 5-0-0 (USA 17-3 win), went 3-1 in the Palmer Cup (another USA win) and won the Century 21 tournament on the Japan LPGA Tour (17 under par).

 

Quotable

Kristen Gillman on her mindset from the outset of the 36-hole final:

“I was feeling really comfortable over everything warming up, and so I knew going into the round that I could just go after the pins and try to make the putts and try to be a little bit more aggressive because Jiwon is a great player, and so I knew if I wanted to beat her I had to make a lot of birdies. I was just going out there and just trying to birdie every hole. That didn’t happen, but I was definitely trying.”

Gillman on the nearly two-hour break between rounds and what she did to remain focused:

“It’s definitely hard to sit there for that long because I think the first time when I won [in 2014], I don’t remember the break being that long. I just kind of had to keep my mind off of golf, and I was just talking to my family and some of my friends that were here to kind of distract me for those two hours I had.”

Gillman on her mindset after getting 7 up again early in the afternoon 18:

“I feel like in golf, it’s never over until it’s over, so I kept telling myself that you don’t have it won until it’s actually done. I think the last few holes, I’d win and then she would win, then I would win and then she would win, so it kept going back and forth. But after every time I lost a hole, I was always fired up and wanted to win the next one because I didn’t like losing those holes.”

Jiwon Jeon on her mindset going into lunch, having won the final two holes of the morning 18 to trim Kristen Gillman’s lead to 5 up:

“I was very confident because I won the last two holes, and I had good momentum to go into the first hole of the second [18 of the] match. It didn’t turn out that well, but it is what it is.”

Jeon on being hosted by Gillman when she took her recruiting trip to Alabama:

“Yeah, well, we only had a few days to actually like stay together, so we didn’t get too close to get to know each other, but I think she’s a really sweet girl, and she’s a great golfer, too, and she’s a pretty smart student (4.0 GPA).

Jeon when asked if she had seen Gillman play competitively before the final match:

“Well, not really. I’ve seen her on TV when she played in the Japanese tournament [in late July] on the Japanese Tour, but I know her golf game is really good. It’s well known. She’s well known to be a good golfer.”

David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at dshefter@usga.org.

 

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