Rose Zhang denies Gabriela Ruffels a repeat at US Women’s Amateur

ROCKVILLE, Md. – Rose Zhang thought she might have to withdraw from the US Women’s Amateur due to an injury to her left wrist. Instead, they did not play for 10 days in order to have their best chance.

It turned out to be a winning decision.

Zhang won the longest U.S. women’s amateur title game in 54 years, and Gabriela Ruffels denied a repeat victory Sunday when the 20-year-old Australia missed a 3-foot par putt on the 38th hole.

“Having my name on the trophy with the best players of all time is life-changing for me,” Zhang said. “It’s a dream come true.”

Neither player led by more than 2 the entire match of 36 holes, and they hauled the last five holes with par to force extra holes for the first time since 2001.

Zhang, a 17-year-old Californian who promised to play at Stanford next year, sent it to overtime with a clutch flop-and-run of the rough 95 yards away on the 18th hole after tap-in range.

On the first extra hole, Zhang missed over a 12-foot putt for the win. On the 38th hole, Ruffels went just above the green out of the rough and hit a good pitch to about 3 feet. Zhang missed her birdie putt, and then Ruffels’ par putt to extend the match spun around the cup.

“You can’t take a putt here if applicable,” Ruffels said. “These greens are hard crazy, and that had a bit of a break for it. I played it outside the hole. I actually hit it on my line, but it was heartbreaking to see that the horse ride was out.”

Ruffels, who plays at USC, sought to become the first U.S. Women Amateur back-to-back winner since Danielle Kang in 2011.

Ruffels, who kicked early in all of her races leading up to the final, this time built a 2-up lead through three holes, only for Zhang to ride fast. The match was especially wild at the end of the first 18 holes. Ruffels won the 18th to reduce the deficit to 1. That was part of an eight-hole stretch in which only two holes were halved.

Ruffels made an 8-foot run on the par-3 13th of the afternoon to square the game for the last time, until Zhang won it with par on the 38th hole.

“Today was a very long 38 holes,” Zhang said. “In the middle of the round, my wrist felt strange, so I tried to stretch it as much as I could before going to the next shot I had. I don’t think my wrist was too annoying, but it bothered me. grip in the back. “

It was the second-longest championship game since the U.S. Women’s Amateur began playing in 1896. The record was 41 holes in 1966, when JoAnne Gunderson beat Marlene Stewart Streit, both of whom are inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame .