Saki Baba wins US Women’s Amateur in dominant fashion, scoring another victory for Japanese golf | Golf News and Tour Information

In 2021 Tsubasa Kajitani won the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, and a few days later Hideki Matsuyama won the Masters. Keita Nakajima has been the No. 1 male amateur for 104 consecutive weeks. And six of the top 30 professional women in the world are Japanese. Now, 17-year-old Tokyo-born sensation Saki Baba has picked up a resounding US women’s amateur victory with near-flawless play all week at Chambers Bay in University Place, Washington.

The Japanese golf community will surely be smiling when they learn of this expected result from the 45th amateur in the world.

With a crushing 11-9 win over 21-year-old Canadian Monet Chun, Baba’s victory is the third-highest winning margin in championship history. The teenager is the first Japanese player to lift the Robert Cox Trophy in 37 years, as Michiko Hattori won it in 1985 aged 16.

Baba looked unstoppable all day at the old US Open venue. She tore up the linksy Chambers Bay setup, sporting her signature sun shafts, and drained putts seemingly from everywhere with her center-shafted putter. Until seven hours after morning 18, Baba had a brief error on the 20th and 21st holes, giving two to Chun, who plays at the University of Michigan. But that blip didn’t last long, with the backhand powering Baba winning six holes in a row, ending the match on just the 27th hole of the day. The Japan Wellness Highschool student expertly sealed the victory, netting a mid-range birdie putt on the par-3 10th.

“It was pretty amazing just to watch,” Chun said. “She hit every pin, hit every putt, and it’s hard to match.”

Baba credits much of the confidence she had this week to her local Chambers Bay caddy Beau Brushert, who has been looping there for 13 years.

“I think it was my caddy Beau who really helped me,” Baba said through his interpreter. “The way we were reading everything was really good.”

The pair were randomly matched at the start of the week and developed an effective system to combat the language barrier: Baba and Brushert used hand signals and yardage book illustrations to communicate.

“We got good with sign language,” Brushert said. “And I’m an amazing performer on the yardage book with stick figures. I’m a good stick figure designer. I just tell her where to put it, and yes, she did the rest. She is incredible.”

Baba, who plays at Forest Narusawa Golf & Country Club in suburban Tokyo, is part of the Japan Golf Association’s international home team. Standing 5ft 7in, she is inspired by her golfing idol, Nelly Korda.

Prior to this summer, Baba was a stranger to American competitive golf, although you would never guess that based on his outstanding performance at three USGA championships. Baba qualified for the US Women’s Open on her 17th birthday, then became one of four amateurs to qualify at Pine Needles in June. Next, at US Girl’s Junior, held at Olde Stone in Bowling Green, Ky., Baba earned co-medalist honors and reached the round of 32. Ben Vigil, Baba’s referee in the round of 64 at the Girl’s Junior, described Baba’s lack. experience in match play on Twitter“I refereed Saki’s round of 16 match at #USGirlsJunior, it was basically her first match play experience. She didn’t even know how to concede putts.

Despite the initial unfamiliarity, Baba expressed to the media throughout the week how excited she was about playing golf in the United States and how she felt so at home.

“People here are so nice, so I got to meet these people and that made me very happy,” Baba said earlier in the week. “Being able to play in the United States is so different from what I’ve played, that’s what made me happy.”

Baba’s summer in the United States would not have been possible without the change in the rules of amateur golf in January, allowing the teenager to recruit 12 sponsors to help fund her first trip to Pine Needles. Tetsuya, Baba’s father, told Golf Digest Japan that the trips would have required him to borrow money if it weren’t for the companies that were willing to try their luck with his daughter. Sound investments, so to speak.

By reaching the final, Baba and Chun earned byes for the US Women’s Open at Pebble Beach in 2023. Baba’s impressive play in her first summer on the American golf scene portends a bright future for the latest young star Japanese.

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