A total of 29 amateur players will make their way to San Francisco to participate in the 76th U.S. Women’s Open Championship, which gets underway on June 3 at the historic Olympic Club (Lakeside Course). While all on the same path, their journeys and stories are all their own.
• There’s Monica Vaughn
, an assistant coach at the University of Oregon who qualified for her first U.S. Open after a dozen tries dating back to her high school days.
• How about Chloe Kovelsky
, the 14-year old bomber from Boca Raton, Fla. who routinely drives the ball 280 yards off the tee and has been known to snack on spaghetti and meatballs on the course?
• Teen golf prodigy Amari Avery
, the 2019 California State Amateur champion, shares a birthday with Tiger Woods and was born in the exact hour and minute of her idol.
• Bohyun Park
, a 16-year old of Farmers Branch, Texas via South Korea, Saudi Arabia and New Zealand, took up golf only after she gave up her pursuit of being an ice skater.
• Jaclyn LaHa
, a sophomore at Amador Valley High School in Pleasanton, Calif., will make the short drive over the Bay Bridge to play in her first U.S. Open.
• The long list of talented collegiate players includes Stanford’s Rachel Heck
, the ANNIKA Award winner who won the NCAA individual championship just last week for sixth win of the season, and Duke’s Gina Kim
, who was the low amateur at the 2019 U.S. Open where he finished tied for 12th.
• Two amateurs received exemptions from qualifying due to high-profile tournament victories: Rose Zhang at the 2020 U.S. Women's Amateur
, and Tsubasa Kajitani at the 2021 Augusta National Women's Amateur
Only one thing is for certain heading into Olympic -- the memories will be vivid and unforgettable for the 29 amateur players who have earned the right to compete for the most coveted championship in women’s golf.
Here's a look at the 29 amateur players who will be competing in the 76th U.S. Women’s Open Championship at Olympic Club.
Amari Avery (Riverside, Calif.)
USC commit was co-medalist at Brentwood (Calif.) Country Club with rounds of 74-70 (E)...17-year old won the 2019 California Women’s Amateur…named 2020 Southern California Women’s Amateur of the Year...played the 2021 ANWA in a pair of custom made golf shoes which featured Tiger Woods’ familiar fist pump and a listing of the years he won his five Masters titles...shares a birthday with Woods and according to their birth certificates, were born in the exact hour and minute as her idol...also is a daughter of an African-American golf instructor and an Asian mother...had her first hole-in-one at Heartwell Golf Course in Long Beach, where Woods recorded his first ace almost exactly 28-years to the day.
Addie Baggarly (Jonesborough, Tenn.)
Baggarly, who just completed her senior year in Gainesville, Fla., is making her first start in any women’s professional event. Posted a 73.52 stroke average over 21 rounds in 2020-21 with one top 10. Member of the 2020 USA Palmer Cup Team and was on the 2017-18 All-Southeastern Conference Freshmen Team. Her father, Mark, played for the Florida Gators under legendary coach Buddy Alexander from 1991-94.
Jensen Castle (W. Columbia, S.C.)
Kentucky junior won a playoff for the final qualifying spot after posting rounds of 69-72 at Shannopin CC in Pittsburgh, Pa...advanced to the Rounds of 32 at last year’s U.S. Women’s Amateur...teamed with Wake Forest's Rachel Kuehne to win the 43rd Carolinas Women's Four Ball.
Claire Choi (Honolulu, Haw.)
Is a junior at Santa Clara (Calif.) University...was in fifth place after an opening round 75 in rainy and windy conditions at Oahu (Hawaii) Country Club but carded a 1-under 69 to earn medalist honors...attended Punahou High School where she won the Division I individual state championship as a senior.
Abbey Daniel (Covington, La.)
Mississippi State junior shot rounds of 71-68 to finish 7-under and medal at the Kishwaukee Country Club...second-ever MSU player to qualify for U.S. Open...was the first female from Louisiana to compete at Augusta National; when she took part in the 2015 Drive, Chip and Putt competition.
Leigha Devine (Windsor, Colo.)
Devine, who is making her first U.S. Women’s Open start, just completed her sophomore year at Rutgers University, where she posted one top-10 finish. Led Fossil Ridge High School in Fort Collins, Colo., to the 2019 state 5A team title. Her father, Mark, is a former captain of the Providence College ice hockey team and brother, Garrett, is a current member of the Friars hockey team.
Megha Ganne (Holmdel, NJ)
Stanford commit won a three-way playoff for the final qualifying spot at Spring Lake Golf Club in Spring Lake Heights, NJ...making her second U.S. Women’s Open appearance after qualifying for the 2019 event at the Country Club of Charleston (MC).
Rachel Heck (Memphis, Tenn.)
Stanford freshman claimed medalist honors at Marin Country Club in Novato, Calif. with rounds of 66-70...is the 14th-ranked women’s amateur by Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com...has won six times in her first season at Stanford, including the 2021 Pac-12 Championship,NCAA Stanford Regional and the NCAA individual championship...2020 U.S. Amateur medalist...competed in the 2019 ANA Inspiration...made the cut and was the lowest amateur at the LPGA Evian Championship at the age of 16...was the youngest competitor and made the cut at the 2017 U.S. Women's Open...five-time AJGA Rolex All-American.
Related: Heck's next challenge: the U.S. Women's Open
Jo Hua Hung (Chinese Tapei)
Georgia junior closed with a 69 to take the final spot at Atlanta at 2 under par...took medalist honors at the NCAA Columbus Regional, leading Georgia to a 15-stroke victory on the Scarlet Course...her two brothers are accomplished gymnasts and Taiwan Olympic hopefuls.
Tsubasa Kajitani (Japan)
The 17-year-old will make her first U.S. Women's Open start after edging Wake Forest All-American in a sudden-death playoff to claim the 2021 Augusta National Women's Amateur in early April. Kajitani carded an even-par 72 to pass 54-hole leader and world No. 1 Rose Zhang in the final round. She then parred the 18th hole at Augusta National in the playoff to secure the title. In 2019, Kajitani won the Japan Junior and finished second in the Australian Women's Amateur.
Gurleen Kaur (Houston, Texas)
Baylor junior and two-time All-American qualified at the Golf Club of Houston with rounds of 72-70...led Baylor in stroke average this season...started the year with a pair of wins at the Schooner Fall Classic (tie) and the Betsy Rawls Invitational.
Gina Kim (Chapel Hill, N.C.)
Duke Blue Devil shot matching rounds of 71 at Mid Pines Inn and Golf Club then had to return the next day for a four-way playoff...birdied the second playoff hole to punch her ticket to Olympic...missed the cut at the 2018 U.S. Women’s Open at Shoal Creek...was the low amateur and finished tied for 12th overall in 2019 at Charleston...was the medalist at the ACC Championships in May...won the 2021 Harder Hall Invitational in January...collected a 3-1-0 record at the 2020 Palmer Cup and will play in the event again this year...two-time Rolex AJGA first team All-America selection.
Chihiro Kogure (Japan)
Kogure survived a 3-for-2 playoff at Yokohama Country Club in Japan on April 26 to garner the final spot after shooting 5-over 149. This will be her first U.S. Women’s Open. She recently earned low-amateur honors in the Fundokin Ladies event on the LPGA Tour of Japan.
Chloe Kovelesky (Boca Raton, Fla.)
At 14-years old, will be the youngest participant in the field...shot rounds of 70-70 at Banyan Cay Resort & Country Club in West Palm Beach, Fla. to earn one of three spots along with LPGA Tour players Azarhara Munoz and Maria Para of Spain...consistently drives the ball 280-290 yards off the tee...starred in Esquire’s' Short Game, a series about young golfer and their parents on the road to the U.S. Kinds Golf World Championship.
Jaclyn LaHa (Pleasanton, Calif.)
Sophomore at Amador Valley High School finished second at Marin Country Club in Novato, Calif...won the AJGA Wincraft / McArthur Towel & Sports Future Legends event last year.
Alyssa Lamoureux (Orlando, Fla.)
Central Florida sophomore shot a 145 to earn one of three spots at the Bradenton (Fla.) Country Club qualifier...2016 Florida State Golf Association Junior Player of the Year...reached quarterfinals of 2016 U.S. Women’s Amateur.
Amanda Linner (Sweden)
Arizona State sophomore came through the stacked field at Superstition Mountain Golf and Country Club in Gold Mountain, Ariz. where it took 8-under par to grab one of the available spots...shot 67 in the morning but fell back with a 37 on the first nine of her afternoon round...then rattled off five straight birdies starting on the 11th which led to a 69 and an 8-under score of 136...was the last amateur to advance to Olympic...won the 2019 Lindbytvatten Masters...represented victorious Sweden in the 2017 European Girls Team Championships...also participated in the 2018 Girls' British Open Amateur Championship in Ireland, the 2018 European Ladies' Team Championship in Austria, and the 2018 Ladies' British Open Amateur Championship in England.
Emily Mahar (Australia)
Virginia Tech senior won a three-hole playoff for the final spot at the Belle Haven Country Club qualifier in Alexandria, Virginia...advanced to the Round of 32 at last year’s U.S. Women's Amateur.
Isabella McCauley (Inner Grove Heights, Minn.)
Reigning Minnesota Junior Girls’ State champion shot a 143 at Somerset Country Club in Mendota Heights, Minn. to take second and the final qualifying spot...17-year old high school junior is committed to play collegiately at the University of Minnesota.
Minori Nagano (Japan)
Nagano just completed her freshman year at Seminole State College, where she won the National Junior College Athletic Association individual title while also leading the Sanford, Fla., school to the team championship in Ormond Beach, Fla., 45 strokes ahead of in-state rival Daytona State. The Tokyo native compiled a 72-hole total of 5-under-par 283, nine strokes ahead of teammate Alex Giles.
Noémie Paré (Canada)
Shot 5-under 65 at Dedham (Mass.) Country & Polo Club and closed with a 2-over 72 to share medalist honors...graduate of Ball State University...posted wins at 2020 Quebec Women's Amateur Championship and the Palm Beach Collegiate Invitational.
Bohyun Park (Farmers Branch, Tex.)
University of Texas commit shot rounds of 72-70 at the Golf Club of Houston...16-year old currently attends Carrollton Ranchview High School…is a product of New Zealand’s Institute of Golf, where she was coached by Guy Wilson, who also mentored LPGA star Lydia Ko...two-time Texas State champion...was born in South Korea and speaks Korean despite leaving when she was 1 year old...moved to Saudi Arabia where she tried unsuccessfully to become an ice skater...relocated to New Zealand where she learned to speak English and pursue golf...came to the United States at the age of 13.
Ana Pelaez (Spain)
South Carolina fifth-year senior birdied five of last six holes to race away from the field and medal by five shots at 8-under at Atlanta qualifier...was playing to turn professional last year but decided to return to South Carolina for a fifth season...won the 2020 and 2021 Andalucía Cup...native of Malaga, Spain led the Spanish National Team to victory at the European Girls Team Championship in 2015...also won the 2015 ANNIKA Invitational Europe individual championship.
Aneka Seumanutafa (Emmitsburg, Md.)
Ohio State sophomore shot a 144 to take medalist honors by one shot at Belle Haven Country Club in Alexandria, Virginia...quarterfinalist in 2019 U.S. Amateur...won the 2017 Junior North & South at Pinehurst.
Alexandra Swayne (Virgin Islands)
Just eight days after celebrating her 21st birthday, Swayne qualified for her first U.S. Women’s Open on May 5 by shooting 3-under-par 141 in Atlanta. Born and raised in Ohio, Swayne is a dual citizen of the United States and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Prior to arriving at Clemson, Swayne won the 2015 Girls 14-15 division of the Drive, Chip & Putt Championship at Augusta National Golf Club. In three seasons at Clemson, she owns a 75.74 stroke average. Her father, Chuck, played tennis at Wisconsin and Tennessee before embarking on a five-year professional career.
Lorena Tseng (Chinese Taipei)
Tulsa junior beat a strong field to claim medalist honors by three shots at the Golf Club of Houston...totaled a 5-under par 139 with rounds of 70 and 69 for a three-stroke victory over second-place finishers Gurleen Kaur and Bohyun Park...has 16 top-10 finishes in 24 career tournaments while placing among the top-5 in 11 tournaments…has finished among the top-15 in all five events this year, including two second-place performances.
Karoline Tuttle (Lake Mary, Fla.)
Tuttle, who has committed to play for the University of Florida in the fall of 2022, qualified for her first U.S. Women’s Open on May 3 at Bradenton (Fla.) Country Club, shooting 1-over-par 143. A week earlier, Tuttle, of Lake Mary, Fla., and partner Sophie Linder advanced to the Round of 16 in the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship at Maridoe Golf Club in Carrollton, Texas. She has competed in four USGA championships. On the state level, she finished third in the Florida Women’s Amateur and eighth in the Florida Women’s Open last year en route to being named the 2020 Florida State Golf Association's Junior Player of the Year.
Monica Vaughn (Eugene, Ore.)
University of Oregon assistant coach won the qualifier at OGA Golf Course in Woodburn, Ore. by two shots with a score of 134...opened with a 9-under 63 and followed up with a 71 to easily secure medalist honors at 10-under...Arizona State alum won the 2017 NCAA individual title and represented the United States in Curtis Cup competition.
Rose Zhang (Irvine, Calif.)
Zhang catapulted to No. 1 in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking® late in the summer when she defeated defending champion Gabriela Ruffels in the 36-hole championship match of the 120th U.S. Women’s Amateur, and then outdueled the Australian for low-amateur honors a month later in the ANA Inspiration. Zhang made a brilliant up-and-down par on the 36th hole to force extra holes and then won the match on the 38th hole. By being No. 1 in the WAGR, Zhang was awarded the McCormack Medal for 2020. In 2019, Zhang advanced to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Girls’ Junior and helped the USA win a mixed team gold medal in the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru. The Irvine, Calif., resident has signed to play for Stanford University in the fall of 2021. This will be Zhang’s third U.S. Women’s Open start.
Editor's Note: Amelia Garvey
(USC) and Maja Stark
(Oklahoma State) both qualified for the U.S. Women's Open as amateurs, but Garvey has since turned pro and will be making her professional debut at the Olympic Club. There was a report that Stark too had turned pro, but indeed she is playing as an amateur, putting the number of amateurs in the field at 30.
Information from the USGA was included in this report.