Amateurs perform well at U.S. Women’s Open

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

NORTH SHELBY – It was a strong week for amateurs at the 73rd U.S. Women’s Open held at Shoal Creek Golf Club as several of the non-professionals, most of whom are still in college, made the cut and even had high finishes.

When the final round came to an end on Sunday, June 3, Patty Tavatanakit, who currently plays collegiately at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), was awarded the low-am award after finishing unbelievably in the top 5 (T5).

“That definitely it means a lot,” she said on Sunday. “I actually thought about it last night. There’s a lot of goals and things in my mind when I play, but during my shots, every shot, I just try to stay empty in my mind. I think that helps a lot. There’s a lot of great amateurs that can shoot low numbers. I played my game and it ended up like this.”

It was a memorable moment for Tavatanakit, who shot a final round 71 to get to 2-under par and finish in a tie for fifth with world No. 3 Lexi Thompson and Wei-Ling Hsu.

Interesting enough, Tavatanakit is from Bangkok, Thailand, which is the hometown of this year’s U.S. Open Champion Ariya Jutanugarn.

Ariya and her sister Moriya Jutanugarn inspired Tavatanakit to strive for similar greatness to represent Thailand as Ariya is now the only person from Thailand to win a U.S. Open in both the men’s and women’s tournament.

“I have seen them around, and they inspired me obviously to like boost up my game and try to be on top,” Tavatanakit said.

Other amateurs to make the cut were Albane Valenzuela, Kristen Gillman, Elizabeth Wang, Hailee Cooper, Lucy Li and Linn Grant.

Valenzuela finished at 3-over par to take solo 24th at the event, while Gillman finished in a tie for 27th at 5-over par.

Gillman had some local interest as a golfer at the University of Alabama, which created for an exciting week for the 20-year-old.

“I felt like I learned a lot this week, that I am able to compete out here even though there’s still a few things that I need to work on,” Gillman said. “My game is definitely turning in the right direction, so that definitely feels nice.”

Gillman’s worst round in the four rounds she played was a 3-over par 75, but she also had a round of 2-under par to kick off the tournament in exciting fashion.

For a lot of these young players, a bright future is in store and this tournament was the groundbreaking for a special career.