Every underdog in every sport has a new hero, she is Jensen Castle the newly crowned US Women’s Amateur champion.
The West Columbia golfer came from the 63rd seed to win the national championship at the Westchester Country Club in New York.
If you didn’t know, there are only 64 seeds in the USGA championship bracket. Just making Match Play at a major championship is a resume worthy accomplishment for most golfers.
In the history of USGA Championships, and there have been hundreds, only two other golfers have come from that far back in the bracket to win a championship.
And by the way, you should also know that the University of Kentucky golfer shot a 79 in the first qualifying round for match play and has been nursing a serious rib injury for most of the summer.
And wait, just one more fact, Castle got the 63rd seed after winning a 12 for 3 tie breaker.
Even a Hollywood mogul would have trouble buying the story.
Castles victory in the the 36-hole final over Arizona’s Yu-Chiang Hou earned her the national title, but the finish line was almost anticlimactic because of the journey Castle traveled to have the opportunity to win.
Advancing through the round of 64 with a 3-2 win, the round of 32 was 1 up in Castles’ favor. The round of 16 was a 4 & 2 win and the quarter-finals was a 6 & 5 win.
And if you need just one more almost unbelievable fact from Castles’ run to the championship. The reigning NCAA champion and #2 amateur in the world, Rachel Heck, missed a 4 foot par putt to send the match to a playoff, that Castle won.
And on Sunday a 2 & 1 victory made the underdog a champion.
“Still hasn’t registered. I mean, it feels like just another tournament, but then I step back and I’m like, this is a USGA event with so much history, and I just can’t imagine all the exemptions I didn’t even realize,” she said.
Castle had to battle through a lackluster first 18 holes. Hou gained a 2-up lead as the finalist took a break before playing the second 18.
“And so when I tee’d up I knew I was down, but kept telling myself, just make birdies, fairways, greens, whatever happens, happens; the putts will fall,” she said.
Of the 7 holes Castle won in the final 18 she made birdies on her first three winners, used pars to win a few more and closed out her opponent with a par on the 17th hole for the 2 & 1 win.
“I came out swinging. Three or four birdies right out of the gate and I was just hitting it well. Had a ton of confidence, and told one of the little boys on 15 when I didn’t make the birdie, I was like, They’ll fall eventually<” she said, and they did..
The win opens opportunities all over the world in places Castle could not find on a map.
Some of the exemptions are to future USGA Women’s amateur events.
Castle is in the US Women’s Am for 10 years, she receives an exemptions into the US Women’s Open and the 2022 Ana, and while its not the Master’s Castle receives to the Augusta National Women’s Amateur and don’t forget about the Curtis Cup team playing in Wales..
“I don’t even know where that is, but I’m so excited. I’ve never been out of the country so that’s really exciting. I’m just excited to represent United States. That’s always been a dream of mine,” she said.
While major champions may get a trip to Disney World or the top of the Empire State building Castle gets to go back to work.
This summer she is on the staff at the Columbia Country Club and due back at work.
“I have to get vaccinated and I have work Tuesday morning, so I’ll be working the next few weeks until I need to go to school and leave for Curtis Cup,” said Castle.
Scores from the US Women’s Amateur https://www.usga.org/content/usga/home-page/championships/2021/u-s–women-s-amateur.html#!scoring