Woodard: When the bright future of golf was highlighted in the lopsided US Junior Women’s Final.

The past year was packed with entertaining golf. What stood out the most from the Ryder and Solheim cups, many major championships and million

The past year was packed with entertaining golf. What stood out the most from the Ryder and Solheim cups, many major championships and million dollar events made for television? How about a youth match of 6 and 4 on the outskirts of the country’s capital?

If you weren’t lucky enough to be in the gallery in July at the Columbia Country Club in Chevy Chase, Maryland, during the 72nd North Dakota US Girls’ Junior, then Rose Zhang’s big win may seem pretty tacky. Regardless of the outcome, history was to be made in the 36-hole final. And like books and their covers, you can’t judge a match solely by its score. Ask Bailey Davis. The local Maryland talent aimed to be the first African-American woman to win a USGA championship, but her 6-4 loss was more revealing of her character than of her ability (not to mention Zhang’s talent).

An incoming Stanford freshman at the time, Zhang, who won her first three college starts for the Cardinal this fall, opened the morning game with a bogey-free 64-under (with match-play concessions) and was to the lunch break with a lead of 4 people. Davis played well, with an even par 70, a score that could be good enough to hold an advantage over previous US Girls’ Juniors, with only one real blemish, a double bogey at par 5 12th.

“Bailey was making almost every putt he was watching, and I had to be patient and keep up with him. Zhang said. “That’s what you have to do with your opponent, and I think I did quite well.”

Davis cut the lead early in the afternoon and stayed a few more holes before Zhang started doing what he does best: birdies galore. Zhang made three birdies on four holes to take a lead of 6 on 26 holes. Finally five with five to play, Zhang’s last opponent of the marathon week was Mother Nature, who stopped playing for three hours before Zhang closed the game on the 33rd hole with, you guessed it, a birdie after hitting. the flagpole with its focus. of the rough.

The story continues

After winning the 2020 US Women’s Amateur at nearby Woodmont Country Club, Zhang had been feeling the good vibes in Maryland and had the gallery to prove it. The only player who was close all week was Davis.

“It was amazing to have so many people here. Many friends and family and family friends, teachers, coaches, many people came to see me this week, and I am more than blessed to have them here, ”Davis said of her fans from the final game. “At one point I was down 6 and they said, ‘You have this.’ I was down 5, 5 holes to play and they said, ‘You can do this, Bailey. So it meant a lot to me to know that they were here supporting me and they know that I could possibly have won.

“I played a great game today, but Rose just played better,” Davis continued. “We just take advantage of this experience and learn for the next one.”

The records will show Zhang as the eighth player to win both the female amateur category and the female youth category, and the first to win the junior category after the amateur category. The records will not show Davis as a winner, but instead will show her smiling with her chin raised despite the loss and accepting the challenge to improve.

Neither player used it to get guaranteed money or a big bag. Instead, they did it for the purest of reasons, the love of the game, and that’s the kind of theater that multi-million dollar appearance fees will never produce.