HARRISON, NY-Kentucky junior Jensen Castle came together to advance to the U.S. Women’s Amateur Finals on Saturday and beat Stanford NCAA champion Rachel Heck by a 15-foot birdie on the 19th hole.
Castle, of Western Columbia, South Carolina, will face junior junior Hou Yu-chiang of Taiwan in the 36-hole final. Keep beating Michigan State sophomore Valentina Rossi from Argentina 2.
Two holes down after Heck won the par-4 16th with a birdie, Castle scored the par-3 16th with a course mark and tied it with the par-5 18th when Heck missed a four-footer.
“I must have thought she was winning,” Castle said. “I could not believe she missed it. When I knew she was giving me the opportunity, I said, ‘Okay, I birded earlier, I’m going to bird it again.’ And I went after it. “
After Castle made her birdie on the 274 yard, par-4 19th, Heck misses a 10-foot.
“It’s hard, but I played a good play-out hole,” Heck said. “She made the putt, and I don’t know how I missed it. It was a good role.”
Castle survived a 12-for-2 playoff game late Tuesday just to qualify for the game. She tries to become the third number 63 to win a USGA title Clay Ogden (2005 American Amateur Public Links) and Steven Fox (2012 American amateur).
“I still forget I was the 63rd seed,” said Castle, who suffered a rib injury most of the summer. “I feel like seed is irrelevant once you play in game. It’s everyone’s game. I’m just glad the doctor said I can play.”
She is 248th in the world rankings for women.
Heck, from Memphis, Tennessee, missed an opportunity to join former Georgia star Vicki Goetze (1992) as the only player to win the individual NCAA division and U.S. women’s amateur titles in the same year. In May, Heck ended her freshman year at Stanford with the NCAA individual title – her sixth win of the season. She is number 2 in the global amateur rankings for women.
Hou, recovering from a partially torn labrum in her left, wins the par-4 17th with a par to take the lead and Rossi finishes with a birdie victory at 18.
“I’m not nervous, but I knew I could do nothing if it was because of my bad shot,” Hou said. “So I just try to focus more on my shot for shot, try to hit the greens and then get back to my normal routine.”
Both finalists were released from the 2022 US Women’s Open at Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Resort. Castle would win a place in the American Curtis Cup team with a victory.