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Baba and Chun reach finals of U.S. Women's Amateur
L-R: Saki Baba, Monet Chun (USGA photos)
L-R: Saki Baba, Monet Chun (USGA photos)

At No. 45 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking™, Saki Baba was statistically the top player to reach the quarterfinals of the U.S. Women’s Amateur. With her second straight decisive match-play victory in as many days, the 17-year-old Baba has shown the caliber of play that earned her that ranking, and then some.

Baba, of Japan, soundly defeated fellow 17-year-old Bailey Shoemaker of Dade City, Fla., 7 and 6, in Saturday’s semifinal to earn a spot in the 36-hole championship match. Despite Shoemaker’s gutsy run to the semifinals and strong play to this point, Baba won five of the first seven holes and didn’t allow Shoemaker to get close.

An example of Baba’s killer instinct came on the par-4 10th hole. Already 5 up, she poured in an 18-foot birdie putt, punctuated by a fist pump, to win the hole after Shoemaker two-putted for par. The resulting 6-up lead was never threatened.

When asked if she was feeling confident today, Baba didn’t blush. “During the round I was just thinking, I’m going to win, I’m going to win, the whole time.”

For Shoemaker, it was a disappointing end to a strong championship season. After finishing runner-up with partner Kaitlyn Schroeder in the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball Championship in Puerto Rico, she tied for 49th at the U.S. Women’s Open in June and later that month became the first junior to win the Florida Women’s Amateur. Just three weeks ago, the USC commit made a run to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Girls’ Junior. She will now look ahead to her senior year of high school and contending in future USGA championships.

Due to the Baba blowout, the first semifinal match to begin play was the second one to end, and ultimately saw Monet Chun of Canada defeat Annabel Wilson, 2 and 1. Chun, a 21-year-old junior at the University of Michigan, won the first hole with a conceded birdie after Wilson flared her second shot into the dunes and took two swings to extricate herself from a horrible lie.

Though Wilson got it right back with a win on the par-4 second hole, Chun’s steadiness was ultimately the key as she never fell behind Wilson and clinched the victory with a two-putt par on No. 17.

In high school, Chun stepped away from golf to rebuild her game after struggling with her swing. With renewed confidence this year, she won the Big 10 individual championship, the Canadian Women's Amateur and now has earned a spot in the U.S. Women’s Amateur final.

“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 was probably the best I've played so far, so I'm pretty happy with where I am.”

Wilson, who up until today had not trailed in a match, was gracious in defeat.

“I think on the front nine I just made a few wrong decisions, and that put me in kind of no-zone areas and couldn't make up-and-down for par. But other than that, I was happy. I was able to keep going right until the end.”

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What’s Next

The 36-hole championship final begins at 9 a.m. PT on Sunday. Golf Channel will broadcast live from 4-7 p.m. PT (7-10 p.m. ET).

• • • • •

Notable

By virtue of making the final, Saki Baba and Monet Chun are now exempt into the 78th U.S. Women’s Open Presented by ProMedica, to be played at Pebble Beach Golf Links July 6-9, 2023. The runner-up must remain amateur to use the exemption.

Chun is trying to become the sixth player to win the Canadian Women's Amateur and U.S. Women's Amateur in the same season, and first since Cathy Sherk in 1978.

From 1895 through 2015 there was only one all-international final at the U.S. Women's Amateur (1910). This will be the third in the last seven years (2016 and 2019).

Baba is the first player from Japan to reach the U.S. Women’s Amateur final since Michiko Hattori in 1985. Hattori won the championship that year.

Baba’s 7-and-6 victory over Bailey Shoemaker is the largest winning margin in a U.S. Women’s Amateur semifinal since 1992 when Annika Sorenstam defeated Pat Cornett-Iker by the same margin. It ties the second-largest margin in the last 50 years behind Sherk’s 9-and-8 victory in the 1977 semis.

Going back to the sixth hole of her quarterfinal match against Lauren Lehigh, Baba has won 14 of her 22 last holes.

Through the semifinals, Baba has played 79 holes and Chun has played 87.

Chun is the fourth Canadian to reach the U.S. Women’s Amateur final joining Marlene Stewart Streit (1956, 1966), Sherk (1977, 1978) and Brooke Henderson (2014). She will attempt to join Stewart (1956) and Sherk (1978) as the only Canadian champions of the Women’s Amateur.

Results: U.S. Women's Amateur
WinJapanSaki BabaJapan2000
Runner-upCanadaMonet ChunCanada1500
SemifinalsIrelandAnnabel WilsonIreland1000
SemifinalsFLBailey ShoemakerDade City, FL1000
QuarterfinalsCACatherine RaoCamarillo, CA700

View full results for U.S. Women's Amateur

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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