HOUSTON – The illustrious golf club faced more challenges, stress
and extraordinary complications than one could imagine for a single major
championship. Among the difficulties to overcome: A deadly, worldwide pandemic.
A six-month postponement. Cold, wet playing conditions. No fans allowed. A final
round weather delay that turned into a suspension of play. Almost an inch of
rain in 24 hours, and a Monday finish.
In the end, however, Champions Golf Club stood tall and reminded golfers
and golf fans everywhere that it had all the mettle, resources and support
staff in place to execute an unforgettable 75th U.S. Women’s Open.
“What a memorable championship this indeed was,” USGA CEO Mike
Davis said. “Our host this week, Champions Golf Club, simply did a marvelous
job, especially when you consider we had to move the championship back roughly
six months because of COVID, and also what Mother Nature presented to us.”
Davis added praise to some specific people, whose efforts were
unparalleled in the weeks leading up to the 75th U.S. Women’s Open and during
“To the club’s leadership, staff and committee members: a hearty
congratulations,” Davis said. “To the grounds staff: wonderful job. You
presented a true championship test. A special thanks goes out to Jackie and
Robin Burke. The two of you couldn’t have been better hosts and keep giving
back to golf. We can’t thank you enough for being such friends to the game.”
There were many compelling storylines developing as the final
Amy Olson, 28, from North Dakota trying to break
through for her first Major Championship a day after she learned her father-in-law
died. Olson had a two-shot lead with five holes to play but fell one shot
Hinako Shibuno, 22, from Japan attempting to be the first
from her country to win a U.S. Women’s Open. Known as the “Smiling Cinderella,”
Shibuno also was trying to win a U.S. Women Open title in her first start, as
she did in 2019 when she won the AIG Women’s Open in her first attempt. Shibuno
was the 54-hole leader at Champions, but she was unable to overcome final round
bogeys on the 10th and 11th holes.
Kaitlyn Papp, 22, from Austin won Low Amateur honors and was
in contention the entire week. The 2015 Texas Women’s Stroke Play and 2011
Texas Junior Amateur champion was trying to become only the second amateur to
win a U.S. Women’s Open, joining Catherine Lacoste who captured the title as an
amateur in 1967. Papp, a University of Texas senior, was one of six
amateurs to make the cut. At one point she faced a birdie putt that would’ve
gotten her to within one shot of the lead.
Papp showed admirable guts and stamina all week. She was one of
only two amateurs in the past 10 years to have been in the top 10 on the
leaderboard after each of the final three rounds. She ultimately finished T9
overall at 3-over-par 287. With her outstanding performance, Papp, who also
finished as Low Texan, ensured that amateurs and amateur golf remained in the
conversation – both on the TV broadcast and among golf fans – throughout the
75th U.S. Women’s Open.
“I learned that I can pretty much handle whatever conditions come
our way,” Papp said. “We experienced perfect weather, we experienced kind of
difficult weather this week. I think I just learned that I’m pretty mentally
tough out there.”
Papp’s top-10 finish at Champions guarantees her a spot in the
76th U.S. Women’s Open next year at Olympic Club in San Francisco.
A. Lim Kim, 25, from South Korea stormed back to win the
championship with birdies on the final three holes. Playing for the first time
in America, Kim started the final round five shots behind Shibuno. Kim rolled
in putts of 4 feet, 18 inches and 7 feet, respectively on the championship’s
last three holes to shoot a final round 4-under 67. That tied the best score of
the week, and she matched the all-time record for the largest comeback in U.S.
Women’s Open history.
“I still can’t really soak in that I’m the champion,” said Kim, who
plays mostly on the LPGA of Korea. “But I’m really glad – and through COVID-19
we had a lot of difficulties – but glad we had the U.S. Women’s Open held in
Houston. It was a great win.”
It was a great showing for Champions, too. Despite inclement
weather that brought softer conditions than desired, players loved both the
Cypress Creek and Jackrabbit Courses, as well as the hospitality rolled out
from Jackie and Robin Burke, their staff, the golf committee and volunteers.
“I think both golf courses are tremendous,” said Bronte Law, who
finished T30. “They both challenge you in so many ways, and that’s exactly the
epitome of a U.S. Open. I think the club and USGA did a great job despite
everything that was thrown at them this week. It’s been a pleasure to be here.”
As with most world-class championships, the golf became more
difficult as the event progressed. There were 21 players under par through 18 holes.
After 36 holes, there were six players in red figures. The final two rounds
were played on Cypress Creek, and only three players remained under par through
54 and 72 holes.
“As a kid
growing up, this was where you wanted to come play,” said two-time Major
Champion Stacy Lewis, who grew up nearby Champions in The Woodlands and finished
T44. “When you got the opportunity, you jumped on it. It’s amazing what they’ve
done for the women’s game. Robin was the one who really wanted us here. Her
drive is why we’re here playing this week. Jackie obviously is very supportive
of that. Robin’s commitment to the women’s game is extraordinary, and she is in
a position to make a difference and influence people. Giving all of us this
opportunity is really amazing.”
the best women golfers in the world, the spotlight shone brightest on Champions
and the Burkes. Rightfully so, too.
husband-and-wife duo in the Texas Hall of Fame, there isn’t a living couple in
America who has worked harder than the Burkes to promote championship golf.
Jackie won 16 times on the PGA Tour and captured both the 1956 Masters and PGA
Championship. At 97, the World Golf Hall of Famer is the oldest living major
is a two-time Women’s Texas Amateur champion (1990, ’91). She also won the
Women’s Southern Amateur in 1992 and 2001. She racked up eight Greater Houston
Women’s City Amateur titles and was the runner-up at the 1997 U.S. Women’s
Amateur. Robin Burke helped the U.S. win its first Curtis Cup in 1998, and she
captained the American Team in 2016.
Jack Burke partnered with three-time Masters champion Jimmy
Demaret to create the iconic golf club in far northwest Houston. Since then,
Champions has hosted a U.S. Open (1969, won by Orville Moody), a Ryder Cup
(1967, a U.S. Team victory), a U.S. Amateur (1993, won by John Harris), several
PGA Tour Championships (Tiger Woods won in 1999, David Duval in ’97), two U.S.
Women’s Mid-Amateur championships (1998 and 2017, respectively won by Virginia
Derby Grimes and Kelsey Chugg) and now a monumental U.S. Women’s Open.
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