Danielle Kang couldn’t have picked a better way to bow out of the amateur game. Kang turned up for the US Women’s Amateur Championship at Rhode Island Country Club as defending champion, and left as one of 11 women in 111 years to win consecutive titles.
Kang joins such legends as Betty Jameson, Glenna Collett, Margaret Curtis and Juli Inkster as back-to-back winners of America’s top women’s amateur tournament.
The 18-year-old took the title by defeating Thailand’s Moriya Jutanugarn 6&5 with a display of golf that should stand her well in the professional ranks. Kang recorded 11 birdies and just one bogey in the 31 holes of the scheduled 36-hole final.
“It’s the best golf I’ve played in a major championship,” Kang said.
Kang spent the past two years at Pepperdine University but will not finish her degree. She left Barrington, Rhode Island, set on joining the professional ranks. She has already had a taste of life in the pro game. Kang’s played in four major championships, and won the Smythe Salver as leading amateur in this year’s Ricoh Women’s British Open at Carnoustie.
Kang finishes her amateur career ranked 13th on the World Amateur Golf Ranking. Jutanugarn, meanwhile, leaps 55 places to world number 42 as a result of reaching the final.
Austin Ernst lost in the semi-finals to Jutanugarn, but breaks into this week’s top 10 in 7th place, a move of nine spots.
Margaux Vanmol of Belgium won the Girls’ British Open Amateur Championship at Gullane by defeating France’s Celine Boutier by one hole in the 18-hole final. Vanmol breaks into the world top 100 in 93rd place, an improvement of 88 spots. Boutier graduates to the world top 50, moving to 38th place from 54th.
Finally, Casey Danielson of the United States moves 278 places to 86th in the world after reaching the US Women’s Amateur quarterfinals, where she lost to Jutanugarn.
It was only a matter of time before Mackenzie Hughes became the pride of Canadian amateur golf. After a fifth and third place in the last two Canadian Amateur Championships, Hughes finally broke through.
Hughes survived a challenge from defending champion Albin Choi to take the title at Niakwa Country Club in Winnipeg. Hughes won by two shots after rounds of 68, 72, 64 and 70 for a 10-under-par total of 274.
The 20-year-old native of Dundas, Ontario, is entering his final year at Kent State University in Ohio. Whether or not he turns professional might depend on how he fares against PGA Tour opposition in next year’s RBC Canadian Open, his reward for winning Canada’s national championship.
Hughes moves up this week’s World Amateur Golf Ranking to 120th spot, an improvement of 35 places.
Anton Arboleda of the United States improves his world amateur ranking by 102 spots following victory in the Southern California Match Play Championship at Sandpiper Golf Course in Santa Barbara. Arboleda, a student at UCLA, birdied the 17th hole to defeat Greg Moss 2&1 and take the title. Arboleda moves to 39th on this week’s ranking.
Iceland’s Olafur Loftsson won the Cardinal Amateur at Cardinal Golf and Country Club in Greensboro, North Carolina by four shots, and will play in this week’s Wyndham Championship on the PGA Tour as a result. Loftsson moves to 132nd on the WAGR table, a leap of 82 places.
Will Collins of the United States breaks into the world top 100, moving 15 places to world number 90. Collins did the unthinkable in US Amateur qualifying, shooting a 60 at Colonial Golf and Tennis Club in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to break the course record by four shots. Collins played the front nine in 26, 9-under-par. He came home in 34, and missed a five-foot putt on the 18th hole for a 59.