Top amateur golf moments of 2018, No. 3: Double clutch
Kristen Gillman (Photo illustration)
Kristen Gillman (Photo illustration)

At AmateurGolf.com, we admit to loving the amateur sector of this game for the stories, the depth of the players, the remarkable courses, the history of the tournaments and the sheer love of the game displayed by amateur golfers. As 2018 comes to a close, we’ve gathered the year’s best stories for a countdown to the end of the season. Be sure to come back each day to relive the moments that made amateur golf great this year.

Click here to see the whole list as it is revealed

Repeating at a USGA championship – much less repeating years later – is fairly uncommon. Kristen Gillman joined elite company when she earned her second U.S. Women’s Amateur victory in 2018, four years after winning it the first time.

A lot can happen in four years when you’re a rising amateur player. In the three months leading up to this year’s Women’s Am title, Gillman made the cut at the U.S. Women’s Open, authored a 5-0 run at the Curtis Cup and a scored a victory on the Japan LPGA (her first pro win). And that was just in the span of 90 days.

Gillman was 16 when she won in 2014, sporting braces and still two years removed from the Alabama roster. This time, she was one of the top college players in the country.

“I think over the last four years, I've really been able to, I think, strengthen my mental game and just all aspects of my game because winning that tournament gave me so many opportunities and allowed me to play in some majors and professional events,” Gillman said Sunday afternoon at the Golf Club of Tennessee. “I was able to see what I was lacking in my game. So I've just been able to focus on what I need to improve to be able to make it on Tour.”

A 20-year-old Gillman faced incoming Alabama transfer Jiwon Jeon in the 36-hole final and scored a 7-and-6 victory. Gillman’s consistent playing style wears opponents down. She’s a talented match-play competitor, as she showcased with her undefeated record in the Curtis Cup.

In the months since winning, Gillman successfully navigated LPGA Q-School, earned her card for 2019 and decided she would not return to Alabama in the spring.

With her victory, Gillman becomes the first player since Joanne Gunderson (Carner) to go four years between victories. Gunderson won in 1962 and 1966, and had three other victories. Margaret Curtis (for whom the Curtis Cup was named) also went four years between victories, winning in 1907 and again in 1911 (she also won in 1912).

For Gillman, a repeat was a little sweeter than the original, in large part because this time, she knew what it meant.

“I think this one was a lot harder to win because after the first one I won, it was my first time playing, and so I was kind of new to it,” she said. “But every time I come back now, I've always talked about how -- like this week, I was the only champion in the field, and so I feel like that kind of brings a little bit more pressure along with it. But I think it also makes the victory a little sweeter, too.”

ABOUT THE U.S. Women's Amateur

The U.S. Women's Amateur, the third oldest of the USGA championships, was first played in 1895 at Meadowbrook Club in Hempstead, N.Y. The event is open to any female amateur who has a USGA Handicap Index not exceeding 5.4. The Women's Amateur is one of 14 national championships conducted annually by the USGA, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.

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