Zhang wins US Women’s Amateur to deny Ruffels a repeat

ROCKVILLE, Md. (AP) — California teenager Rose Zhang won the longest U.S. Women’s Amateur title match in 54 years, denying Gabriela Ruffels a repeat victory Sunday when the 20-year-old Australia missed a 3-foot par putt on the 38th hole.

Neither player led by more than 2 up the entire 36-hole match, and they halved the last five holes with par to force extra holes for the first time since 2001.

Zhang, a 17-year-old who has committed to play at Stanford next year, sent it to overtime with a clutch flop-and-run from the rough about 40 yards away on the 18th hole at Woodmont Country Club to tap-in range.

On the first extra hole, Zhang missed about a 12-foot putt for the win. On the 38th hole, Ruffels went just beyond the green from the rough and hit a good pitch to about 3 feet. Zhang missed her birdie putt, and then Ruffels’ par putt to extend the match spun around the cup.

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Ruffels, who plays at USC, was trying to become the first back-to-back winner of the U.S. Women’s Amateur since Danielle Kang in 2011.

Ruffels, who trailed early in all her matches leading to the final, this time built a 2-up lead through three holes, only for Zhang to quickly rally. The match was particularly wild toward the end of the first 18 holes. Ruffels won the 18th to cut the deficit to 1 down. That was part of an eight-hole stretch in which only two holes were halved.

Ruffels made an 8-foot birdie on the par-3 13th in the afternoon to square the match for the last time until Zhang won it with par on the 38th hole.

It was the second-longest championship match since the U.S. Women’s Amateur started match play in 1896. The record was 41 holes in 1966, when JoAnne Gunderson beat Marlene Stewart Streit, who both are in the World Golf Hall of Fame.

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