UCF Women’s Golfer Jess Baker is the 119th Women’s Amateur Champion.
The junior psychology major from Newcastle, England, took home first place at the “British Amateur” Saturday morning after a brilliant two rounds of match play golf in the final to fend off South Carolina’s Louise Rydqvist, accomplishing what no Knight before has ever done.
Baker went a perfect 6-0 in match play after shooting 148(+2) through stroke play to open the tournament.
With the two sides even after the first 15 holes of the day, Baker pulled away to finish the first round up three, and she only expanded on her lead from there, going up as much as five before securing victory with a birdie putt on hole 15 in the second round. In the end, Baker won up four with three holes to go.
With the landmark victory, Baker gains automatic entry to the AIG Women’s Open, US Women’s Open, The Amundi Evian Championship and by tradition, an invite to compete at Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship.
The Women’s Amateur Championship is one of the leading championships in amateur golf for female golfers. The championship, founded in 1893, attracts an international field with former winners including McCormack Medal winner Leona Maguire and major champions Georgia Hall and Anna Nordqvist.
Baker took time to check in from England to share her thoughts on the whole experience.
At what point did you think, “I can definitely win this tournament?” How did you stay focused toward completing that goal?
I think the first time I really felt like I could win it was when I reached the final. Having just beaten Hannah Darling, ranked ninth in the world, my confidence was just sky high, and I felt and knew that I could beat anyone with my game.
Your dad caddied for you. What was it like to share this with him?
My dad was a huge part in keeping my cool and focus. He always knew the right things to say, even if it wasn’t necessarily something I wanted to hear. We worked as a great team together and he really gave me great clarity and confidence before every shot.
How did your experience at UCF help you in this tournament?
UCF has been huge in my progression as a golfer and as a person. The opportunity to compete in such high quality fields throughout the year in America has allowed me to play against some of the best amateur golfers in the world. To put my game against theirs on home soil and come out on top just shows how strong UCF is and we really can compete with the best.
What was your favorite moment of the competition? What will you always remember?
I think it has to be the winning putt — that feeling of relief and joy and then running to my dad was so special, and moments like that don’t happen very often. I finished off a lot of my matches really well with some long putts and a great up and down to make it to the last 16 was incredible. The memories I’ve made this week will last a lifetime.
Looking ahead, how do you feel about the tournaments you now qualify for like the US Open?
I can’t wait for all of the exciting opportunities that lie ahead. I’ve not got my head around the fact that I’ll be playing Pebble Beach and Augusta, which are bucket list for any golfer. It’ll be amazing to experience three major tournaments alongside the best female athletes in the world and I’m going to enjoy every second of them.
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