Amy Fruhwirth, of Phoenix, defeated Sara Evens, 3 and 1, to win the 1992 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship at Haggin Oaks Golf Course in Sacramento, Calif. Having already won the 1991 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship, Fruhwirth joined Pearl Sinn as the only players at the time to have won both the U.S. Women’s Amateur and the WAPL. Fruhwirth, a three-time All-American at Arizona State University who competed on the 1992 USA Curtis Cup Team, played 12 seasons on the LPGA Tour, winning the 1998 Friendly’s Classic. The 1985 U.S. Girls’ Junior runner-up also worked for clubmaker Ping for several years after leaving the LPGA Tour in 2004, and currently is a stay-at-home mother of two.
What did winning the WAPL mean to you?
I think winning the WAPL was one of the highlights of my career, certainly along with winning the U.S. Women’s Amateur. There’s just so much history, tradition and so many great players who’ve won it in the past. That’s one of the things I’m really proud of – that I’m one of the names on the trophy. It was very exciting at the time.
How did it feel to join Pearl Sinn, a fellow Sun Devil, as the only players to win the WAPL and U.S. Women’s Amateur?
I won the Women’s Am in August 1991, and the Public Links in June 1992. Pearl held both titles in one year . I would love to have done that, but yeah, it was quite an honor.
What is your most vivid memory from that championship week?
I think it was the crowds. A lot of people came out to the event. I think it was Mr. [Carroll] Canfield, [a local USGA committeeman], who ran the tournament at the time and he made a great effort to get a gallery out there. That’s what stands out. It felt like the community really supported the event. They were excited to come out and watch the women play.
Did it help being a native Californian?
At the time, I was living in Arizona full-time, but certainly, being a Southern Californian, it was pretty awesome to win in the state where I grew up playing golf. At the time, I’m not sure I really thought about that, but the older you get, the more you reflect on things. Looking back on it now, I think I appreciate that a lot more.
Did any particular match stand out for you?
I know I had a lot of close matches. I really had to play well to win. I recall the championship match against Sara Evens. We were pretty much head to head for most of the day. It was a back-and-forth sort of match. It was like whoever birdied coming down the stretch was going to win the championship. I remember it being very challenging. I think No. 17 was a par 5. I hit my third shot pretty tight to the flagstick and I think she conceded the putt to me, if I remember correctly. But taking the match to the 17th hole in any match-play event, those are two players who are well matched for one another.
Do you still stay in touch with anyone you met at the WAPL?
There were some players who played in the WAPL who eventually played on the LPGA Tour when I was out there, but not so much anymore. I’ve been out of competitive golf for 10 years. I keep in touch with my close friends, but I don’t think any of them played in the Women’s Amateur Public Links or they didn’t make it to the match play.
Where does the WAPL victory fit into your career accomplishments?
Oh, confidence! Any time you can win a national championship like that, it just gives you more confidence. I was able to carry that momentum forward. It just elevated the confidence that I had in myself and allowed me to achieve the goals I had for myself in golf. That certainly was something that was important and allowed me to do that.
How do you feel about the WAPL being retired after this year?
When I heard about it, I was really disappointed. It’s such a good championship and so many good players have won the event. I know so many of the young players who come and win that event are very appreciative to hold that title. I know the USGA is moving forward. The initial reason [for the change] is that the U.S. Women’s Amateur and the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links are not what they were when they held the first one in 1977. When the Women’s Amateur opened up to Public Links players, I think the WAPL kind of got lost in that a little bit. Hopefully with the onset of the [Amateur] Four-Ball [Championships] and the team environment, that brings another level of excitement to a USGA championship.
With your visor, sunglasses and short blond hair, you were often mistaken for three-time U.S. Women’s Open champion Annika Sorenstam on the LPGA Tour. How often were you called Annika?
A few years ago, I was shopping at Albertson’s (a grocery store) and the cashier asked if I was Annika. I was used to that on the golf course and in the tournament setting, but that was the first time away from golf that has happened to me.
Lisa D. Mickey is a Florida-based freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on USGA websites.