Wisconsin, United States: China’s rise on the international golfing stage has continued with the dramatic victory of Ye Lei in the 71st US Girls’ Junior Championship.
Displaying nerves of steel, 18-year-old Ye rolled home a three-foot par putt on the 36th hole at SentryWorld to secure a one-up victory over American Jillian Bourdage.
Ye is only the second player from the People’s Republic of China to win a USGA championship, following 2014 US Women’s Amateur Public Links winner Alice (Fumie) Jo.
“This tournament is the ultimate achievement of junior golf, so it’s been a perfect ending,” said Ye, who played her final junior competition this week.
“That last putt, though it was three 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.”
An incoming freshman at Stanford University, Ye is 69th in the Women’s Amateur Golf Ranking. She is the 13th international player to have her name engraved on the Glenna Collett Vare Trophy, joining the likes of Asian Major champions Park In-bee and IK Kim (Korea) and Thai Ariya Jutanugarn.
Other names on the trophy include World Golf Hall of Famers Mickey Wright, JoAnne Gunderson Carner, Nancy Lopez, Hollis Stacy and Amy Alcott as well as modern-day stars Lexi Thompson and Minjee Lee.
With the victory, Ye also earned an exemption into the 2020 US Women’s Open at Champions Golf Club in Houston, Texas.
Asked what her success means for young players in China, Ye said: “You know, China is definitely a growing player in the game, and I think winning this (championship) is definitely a huge achievement for us. I know that it will inspire other juniors back home to work harder to play better. Being able to help grow the game back home, that’s really cool.”