- Stanford Women's Golf photo
After a historic run through the spring college championship season and deep runs in USGA events, Rachel Heck
(Memphis, Tenn.) is the 2021 AmateurGolf.com Women's Player of the Year.
The AmateurGolf.com Women's Player of the Year is awarded based on a point system earned through performance in major women's amateur events throughout the course of the year. This year, the 20-year-old Heck topped a deep international field that included five different nations in the top 10 players.
Players of the Year
Coming into her freshman year at Stanford University, expectations were high for Heck, who was a five-time Rolex All-American as a junior golfer and who had demonstrated that she was comfortable playing against the world's best. As a 15-year-old she made the cut at the U.S. Women's Open, and was the low amateur
in the Evian Championship at the age of 16.
But no one would have foreseen just how dominant she would be in the spring, especially after Stanford's fall 2020 season was wiped out due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Heck got started at the Gunrock Invitational, earning her first college victory and leading the Cardinal to the team win. She followed it up with a T11 at the Juli Inskter/Meadow Club Invitational and a runner-up finish to Kelly Sim
at the PING/ASU Invitational. As it turned out, Sim would be the last player to beat Heck the rest of the college season.
The next week, Heck contended at the Augusta National Women's Amateur, ultimately finishing one shot behind the winner Tsubasa Kajitani
A week later at the Fresno State Classic, her college streak began. Heck closed with a 9-under 63 at Copper River Country Club to set an all-time Stanford 54-hole scoring record and win by six shots.
Then came her historic run through the college championship season. First, Heck shot three straight rounds in the 60s to win PAC-12 Women's Championship
by two shots, becoming just the second Stanford women's conference champion.
In the NCAA Regional hosted by Stanford, Heck edged her teammate Angelina Ye by a shot to win the individual title, and help the Cardinal win by 30 shots with a school-record score. In so doing, Heck extended her streak of rounds in the 60s to 10.
That streak would reach 12 at the NCAA Women's Championship, as she raced to a five-shot lead at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz. From there she was able to see out the last two rounds and become Stanford's first-ever NCAA Women's National Champion.
With the win, Heck became just the third player in NCAA history to sweep the postseason
by winning conference, regional and national titles. Heck also set a NCAA record with a 69.72 season scoring average. The awards followed: PING/WGCA Player of the Year, the ANNIKA Award
, and every All-Conference and All-American award on offer.
Her momentum carried her into the U.S. Women's Open
. Shortly after winning the PAC-12, Heck was the qualifying medalist at Marin Country Club, and joined 30 other amateurs for the championship at the Olympic Club in San Francisco. A consistent performance allowed her to make the cut, finishing tied for 35th.
She took a break after that, returning to high-profile competition a couple of months later at the U.S. Women's Amateur at Westchester Country Club in New York. It looked like she was on her way
to becoming just the second player ever to win the NCAA Championship and U.S. Women's Amateur in the same year -- she had run through four matches and was the clear favorite against any of the other three semifinalists -- but she saw the eventual champion Jensen Castle
win the 18th and 19th holes against her and end her run.
Heck then traveled to Wales and helped Team USA retain the Curtis Cup
, marking the first time since 2008 that the U.S. had won on foreign soil.
Given all that she had accomplished this far in 2021, Heck had a surprisingly quiet fall college golf season, appearing in only two events and finishing T38 and T10. Instead it was her new teammate Rose Zhang
who was making headlines, winning her first three college tournaments and adding three gold medals at The Spirit International
for Team USA. Heck won two golds herself -- the overall team and women's team, partnering with Zhang -- and finished fifth in the women's individual. It was the final action for Heck in a breakthrough season that was historic while almost being all-time great.
Final Women's POY Points Standings, 2021
For the second straight year, the runner-up in the Women's Player-of-the-Year points race was Ingrid Lindblad
of Sweden. Lindblad won the European Women's Amateur and won three college tournaments representing LSU. Her countrywoman Maja Stark
was third on the strength of a T16 finish in the U.S. Women's Open and two wins at Oklahoma State.
Zhang was fourth, though she clearly won the second half of the year with her aforementioned wins as well as a U.S. Girls' Junior title
to go along with last year's win
at the U.S. Women's Amateur. Emma Spitz
of Austria rounded out the top five. In all four Swedes were among the top ten points earners.
Golfweek/AmateurGolf.com Women's Rankings
| Complete 2021 Points List (1131 players)