Kristen Gillman rallied to win the U.S. Women’s Amateur on Sunday, beating Canada’s Brooke Henderson 2 up in the 36-hole final at Nassau Country Club.
“I don’t think it’s sunk in yet, but it’s just awesome,” said Gillman, a 16-year-old junior at Lake Travis High School in Austin, Texas, who is set to attend the University of Alabama in 2016.
Gillman lost the 25th and 26th to fall 3 down. She won the short, par-4 27th with a birdie, cut it to 1 down with a birdie win on the par-4 30th and pulled even with another birdie win on the par-4 32nd.
“I just keep fighting because I didn’t want to leave here without the ultimate prize,” Gillman said. “I just kept fighting.”
Gillman took the lead with a birdie win on the par-5 33rd, matched the 16-year-old Henderson with pars on the 34th and 35th holes and took the par-4 36th with a birdie after hitting a 9-iron to 3 feet.
“Ball-striking has always been a strength,” Gillman said. “I mean, I hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens, and then throughout the last year my ball-striking has gone a lot better, and I’ve just been able to hit it closer to where I can make the putts.”
Gillman birdied five of the last 10 holes.
“She was throwing darts and that definitely affected my game a little bit,” Henderson said. “I was trying to match it. A couple holes I was able to and others I just didn’t.”
Gillman, coming off an 11-stroke victory last week in the Junior PGA Championship,
Henderson, from Smith Falls, Ontario, was trying to become the third Canadian winner in tournament history. Marlene Stewart Streit accomplished the feat in 1956, and Cathy Sherk did it in 1978.
“Well, it’s been a great week,” Henderson said. “I really enjoyed it. I spent a whole seven days here, which is awesome. Coming into the week if they said, ‘Would you like to play in the finals?’ I would have said yes for sure. I definitely will learn a lot from this and take away a lot from this week.
“Definitely, I wanted to get my name on the trophy, but that’s not necessarily success for me. I played well and I had a lot of fun this week.”