Kentucky Wildcats junior Jensen Castle wins U.S. Women's Amateur

HARRISON, N.Y. -- Kentucky junior Jensen Castle won the U.S. Women's Amateur on Sunday, beating Arizona junior Hou Yu-chiang of Taiwan 2 and 1 in the 36-hole final at Westchester Country Club.

Castle, from West Columbia, South Carolina, won after surviving a 12-for-2 playoff late Tuesday to get into the 64-player field for match play.

"Still hasn't registered,'' Castle said. "It feels like just another tournament, but then I step back and I'm like, this is a USGA event with so much history.''

She's the third No. 63 seed to win a USGA title, following Clay Ogden in the 2005 U.S. Amateur Public Links and Steven Fox in the 2012 U.S. Amateur.

After Hou won the 30th and 31st with birdies to pull within 1, Castle took the par-4 33rd with a par, lost the par-3 34th to Hou's birdie and finished off the match with a birdie on the par-4 35th.

Ranked 248th in the world amateur ranking, Castle wrapped up an automatic spot on the U.S. Curtis Cup team this month in Wales. She also earned spots in the Women's British Open at Carnoustie in two weeks along with the 2022 ANA Inspiration, U.S. Women's Open, Evian Championship and Augusta National Women's Amateur.

"I don't even know where [Wales] is, but I'm so excited," Castle said. "I've never been out of the country, so that's really exciting. I'm just excited to represent the United States. That's always been a dream of mine.''

Castle hadn't played any competitive golf since her U.S. Women's Amateur qualifier in Dayton, Ohio, on July 8 because of a stress fracture in her ribs. Hou hadn't played a competitive event since the NCAA Championships in late May because of a partially torn labrum in her left hip.

"This is golf, and I am really looking forward to what's next for me,'' said Hou, who has entered the first stage of LPGA Tour Qualifying School. "Congratulations to the champion. She played really well.''