U.S. Women's Amateur
Japan's Saki Baba and Canada's Monet Chun set for international battle in U.S. Women's Amateur final
Japan's Saki Baba (left) and Canada's Monet Chun are the third all-international finalists in the last seven years of the U.S. Women's Amateur.
For the third time in seven years, the U.S. Women’s Amateur final will be a battle between international talent: Saki Baba of Japan will face off against Monet Chun of Canada on Sunday at Chambers Bay. The matchup is one more clear sign that the women's amateur game is thriving in all corners of the world, because before 2016, the last final that didn’t include an American competitor was in 1910.
Baba, the Tokyo-born 17-year-old, may be new to golf in the U.S., but she gave absolutely no hint of that during her crushing 7-and-6 victory over Floridian Bailey Shoemaker. After winning the opening hole of the day, Baba hit fairway after fairway and cleaned up nicely on the greens, while her fellow 17-year-old opponent clearly struggled with speed on the undulated putting surfaces. Baba wrapped up the match early on the driveable par-4 12th with a birdie. She is the first Japanese player to reach the finals since Michiko Hattori won the championship in 1985.
“During the round I was just thinking, I'm going to win, I'm going to win, the whole time,” said Baba, using a translator to speak with the media.
Saki Baba hits her tee shot at the fourth hole during the semifinals at the 2022 U.S. Women's Amateur.
Baba’s quiet confidence has helped her put together a summer of three stellar USGA championship appearances. The high school student, who is currently ranked 45th in the Women's World Amateur Golf Rankings, qualified in Japan for the U.S. Women’s Open on her 17th birthday. She went on to make the cut at Pine Needles and finished tied for 49th. Baba then earned co-medalist honors a few weeks later at the U.S. Girls' Junior in Bowling Green, Ky., where she eventually lost in the round of 32.
Baba attributes much of her success this week to the American golf experience she has gained over the past few months. The teenager has been raving about how fond she is of playing in the States, and her growing level of comfort is obvious. After the Girls' Junior, Baba wrote on Instagram, “American golf is fun! I want to go to an American University.” This week, Baba is using a local Chambers Bay caddie, Beau Brushert, who has been at the 2015 U.S. Open venue for 13 years.
Chun, Baba’s opponent in the final, wasn't as dominant in her semifinals victory, but she held out a valiant effort from Ireland’s Annabel Wilson, winning 2 and 1. The match looked like it was going to be tight from the very start, with Chun winning the opening hole and Wilson bouncing back to tie it up with a win on the second. However, some poor decision making by Wilson and an outrageous birdie from a sprawling fairway bunker on the 13th led the Canadian to secure her spot in the finals.
Monet Chun (left) is congratulated by Annabel Wilson after winning their match 2 and 1 during the semifinals at the 2022 U.S. Women's Amateur.
A junior at the University of Michigan and the 143rd ranked amateur in the world, Chun, 21, has put a lot of work into her game to reach this level of competitiveness. According to Golf Channel analysts, the Ontario native went through a rough patch with her golf following a decorated junior career, and there was a period when she struggled to break 80.
“Yeah, I wasn’t very steady swing-wise, so being here right now is actually a huge accomplishment for me,” said Chun. “I feel like this past year in school this season was probably the best I’ve played so far, so I’m pretty happy with where I am.”
Chun has been on a tear for six months. She was the Big Ten Championship individual medalist in the spring, and her play led the Wolverines to their first Big Ten title. Just a few weeks ago she won the Canadian Women’s Amateur at Westmount Golf & Country Club by two shots.
The 36-hole championsihp match begins at 9:30 a.m. PT and will be broadcast on Golf Channel from 7 p.m. 10 p.m. ET.