The 36-hole final of the U.S. Girls’ Junior on Saturday was a mismatch on paper, but another matter altogether on the golf course. Ultimately, the prohibitive favorite, Lei Ye of China prevailed, but by the thinnest of margins over Jillian Bourdage.
The match came down to the final putt on the final hole at SentryWorld in Stevens Point, Wis., a four-foot par putt that Ye holed moments after Bourdage missed an eight-footer for birdie to send it to a 37th hole.
“It’s definitely unbelievable,” Ye said. “This is my last junior tournament, so it’s truly a phenomenal way to end it, on such a high note.”
Ye, 18, who will enroll at Stanford later this summer, already has compiled a strong resume. She is 66th in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, made the cut in an LPGA event at 13, reached the final of the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball, with partner Yu Chun Chang, in 2018, and played in the U.S. Women’s Open in 2018, though missing the cut.
Meanwhile, Bourdage, 17, has another year of high school before enrolling at Ohio State. A resident of Tamarac, Fla., she came into the Girls’ Junior 837th in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, though she, too, reached the final of a Women’s Amateur Four-Ball, in 2019, with partner Casey Weidenfeld.
Ultimately, the experience advantage won out for Ye, who never trailed in the match and was 3 up through the first 18 holes. But Bourdage won the 24th and 25th holes to square the match.
From there, Ye was either 1 up or the match was tied. On the 17th hole, Ye holed a 10-foot birdie putt to regain the lead, and she halved the 18th with a long two-putt par, while Bourdage missed her short birdie putt to extend the match.
“That putt, I just under-read it,” Bourdage said. “I felt pretty good over the ball, the aim looked great. But it was one of those putts that just wasn’t going to drop, I guess.
“It’s been such an amazing experience to even be here. I didn’t expect to even get this far. It’s just such honor to be playing against so many wonderful players. I had an amazing time this week.”