She’s only 16, but Eun Jeong Seong isn’t too young to have developed a knack for tinkering with USGA records.
Two weeks removed from becoming just the third golfer to repeat as the U.S. Girls’ Junior champion, the South Korean native is now the first to win the U.S. Women’s Amateur and Junior titles in the same year.
Seong defeated Italy’s Virginia Elena Carta, 1 up, in the 36-hole championship match of the Women’s Am on Sunday at Rolling Green G.C. outside Philadelphia, making a 40-foot birdie putt on the last hole to close out the week in dramatic style.
“Today is [a] different feeling because I made history,” Seong said compared to her two previous USGA wins. “I can’t believe it. Just happy.”
Tiger Woods is the only other golfer to accomplish a similar feat, winning the U.S. Junior and U.S. Amateur during his amateur career. Woods won each three times, although never in the same year.
Carter, a 19-year-old sophomore-to-be at Duke, was looking to join some rare company of her own as she tried to match Vicki Goetze in 1992 as the only players to win the NCAA and the Women’s Amateur titles in the same summer.
Seong started slowly, falling 2 down through 10 holes to Carta before the pair finished the morning 18 all square. Seong reversed things in the afternoon, making five birdies while never trailing Carta and stretching the lead to 2 up through 29 holes.
It wasn’t clear whether Carta would even finish the match as the hot, muggy conditions left her dizzy and forced her to seek medical attention after winning the 31st hole to cut Seong’s lead to 1 up.
“I mean, I was not feeling good at all,” Carta said. “I was like shaking, and that was not a good feeling. But at the same time, as I said, because of my personality, I knew if I wanted, I could have arrived until the end, like maybe losing 3 and 2, but still playing every single shot and giving my best every single shot.”
After a 15-minute break, the match resumed, Seong winning the 32nd hole. But Carta didn’t give up, making an improbable 30-foot birdie putt on the 35th hole to force the match to the final hole before Seong claimed victory with a bomb of her own.
“Yeah, [my hands were] shaking,” said Seong of her mindset on the final green. “I’m 1 up, and if I lose this hole, I can go to playoff. I just think, please two-putt, please two-putt. But I made it. I’m surprised.”
She might be the only one who was.