STEVENS POINT, Wis. (AP) — Lei Ye of China won the U.S. Girls' Junior Championship on Saturday, beating Jillian Bourdage of Tamarac, Florida, 1 up in the 36-hole final at SentryWorld.
The 18-year-old Ye, an incoming freshman at Stanford, won the par-4 35th hole with a 6-foot birdie putt and matched Bourdage with a par on the par-4 36th to end the match. Ye won with a 3-foot putt after Bourdage missed a 5-foot birdie try.
"This tournament is the ultimate achievement of junior golf, so yeah, it's been a perfect ending," Ye said. "That last putt, though it was 3 feet, I was definitely nervous. It's a big putt. I just told myself, 'You've practiced this thousands and thousands of times, you could do it in your sleep.'"
The 17-year-old Bourdage is set to attend Ohio State next year.
"I think I just under-read it," Bourdage said about her birdie try on the final hole, "but I felt really good when I walked over the ball and my aim looked great from where I was standing. I just gave it my best shot, but that's golf sometimes. They don't all drop."
The second Chinese player to win a USGA title, Ye earned a spot next year in the U.S. Women's Open at Champions Golf Club in Houston and an invitation to the Augusta National Women's Amateur. Both finalists qualified for the U.S. Women's Amateur next month at Old Waverly in Mississippi. Alice Jo is the only other Chinese winner in USGA history, taking the 2014 U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links.
"China is definitely a growing player in the game, and I think winning this is definitely a huge achievement for us," Ye said. "I know that it will inspire other juniors back home to work harder to play better. So I think being able to help grow the game back home, that's really cool."