In Finally Winning The U.S. Women's Amateur, Collegiate
Superstar Amanda Blumenherst Showed She's The Nation's Best
2008 Championship Annual: The Year In Review
By Beth Murrison, USGA
It seemed as though Amanda Blumenherst had done it all before arriving at Eugene (Ore.) Country Club for the 2008 U.S. Women's Amateur. She was a three-time national collegiate Player of the Year, a three-time first-team All-American, a member of two NCAA championship teams at Duke, a two-time winning Curtis Cup participant, had tied for low amateur at a U.S. Women's Open (2006), and was an 11-time winner of collegiate events.
But there was a glaring omission from this brilliant résumé. Blumenherst had never won the U.S. Women's Amateur Championship.
But while the 21-year-old from Scottsdale, Ariz., said she didn't really need a Women's Amateur title to validate her career, deep inside she knew she wanted to raise the Robert Cox Cup at the end of the week.
|Amanda Blumenherst, enjoying the fruits of her labor at the U.S. Women's Amateur, had quite the year in 2008. (Steven Gibbons/USGA)|
A year earlier, at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Ind., with a throng of family and friends in attendance, Blumenherst had come so close to fulfilling that dream, losing a tightly contested final — Blumenherst led most of the way — to 17-year-old Colombian Maria Jose Uribe, 1 up.
Following that defeat, Blumenherst heard consolatory remarks from players on both the college and amateur circuits, but that only fueled her desire to win the Women's Amateur, where she arrived as favorite.
For a while, it looked as though Blumenherst would fall short again. After sharing stroke-play medalist honors, she needed to rally from 3 down in the first round to defeat fellow collegian Lizette Salas. In the final, against Spain's Azahara Munoz — who in May had won the NCAA Division I women's individual crown — Blumenherst trailed for the majority of the match.
This time, however, the story had a very different ending. Munoz won two of the first three holes of the scheduled 36-hole final with pars when Blumenherst lipped out a 5-foot par putt on No. 2 and another 5-foot par putt on the third hole. Blumenherst was able to square the match with a 12-footer for birdie on the 15th hole, but missed a 7-foot par putt on No. 18 to give Munoz a 1-up lead heading into the break.
Both players were the equivalent of even par (with concessions) for the morning round, but Munoz knew Blumenherst would step up her level of play after lunch. "She didn't play that great [in the morning], but she had ups and downs from everywhere," said Munoz, a senior-to-be at Arizona State University. "She played like that all day. She made pars, pars, pars, and when she hit the green she made birdie. She played really well. She saved everything."
Munoz — attempting to become the first USGA champion to hail from Spain — would increase her lead to 2 up, but Blumenherst was not done. She whittled another hole back, and on the 10th hole of the afternoon drew all square.
For Blumenherst, playing in last year's Women's Amateur final had taught her the
importance of patience. "If I hadn't had last year's experience I might have given up a little bit or tried to force something to happen," she said. "So I thought, 'Alright, this is not a big deal, I can get it back.' "
Blumenherst took her first lead of the day with a par on the 31st hole and held steady from there, closing out Munoz at the 35th hole for a 2-and-1 victory.
With her mission complete, Blumenherst finally admitted how much this USGA title meant. "I wanted this so much," she said. "I think I would have been crushed if I hadn't won it, especially after reaching the final again.
"This match was huge. I wanted to kind of prove to everyone that I wasn't overrated or that those college awards weren't all a coincidence or things that were given to me. I wanted to show everybody that this is the place I earned, and I feel I've done that."
Blumenherst will graduate from Duke next May and plans to turn professional after the 2009 NCAAs — which means she will not defend her Women's Amateur title.
But for one week in Eugene, she left no doubt: Amanda Blumenherst is the best female amateur golfer in the country. Beth Murrison is manager, education and outreach, for the USGA Museum.This article first appeared in the 2008 Championship Annual, a special publication mailed to USGA Members in November.