Recap: Duncan Wins 2001 Championship

Mission Hills, Kan. -- Meredith Duncan, 21, of Shreveport, La., made a 2-foot birdie putt on the 37th hole to defeat Nicole Perrot, 17, of Santiago, Chile, to win the 101st United States Women’s Amateur Championship at the 6,242-yard, par-71 Flint Hills National Golf Club. It was a match that veteran observers called the greatest final in the history of United States Golf Association championships, a punch and counter-punch contest that inspired cheers from a gallery of some 2,500 spectators.

With the usual match play concessions -- and they were few -- Duncan and Perrot made 10 birdies each. Duncan had 18 one-putt greens; Perrot had 16. Duncan fired rounds of 65-72 for the 36 holes, and birdied the 37th. Perrot had rounds of 71-67, and parred the 37th - a par that cost her the Women’s Amateur title one week after she won the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship.

On the strength of eight birdies, Duncan was 4 up after 27 holes. At the 28th, Perrot began her move. Perrot won the 28th and 29th holes with birdies and reduced Duncan’s lead to two holes. Perrot won the 31st hole with a par and the margin was one. At the 34th hole, a 402-yard par 4, Perrot sank an 8-foot putt for a par. Duncan then made one of her few mistakes, three-putting from 35 feet, and the match was all square.

“When I walked on the 35th tee, I thought to myself that there’s no way on God’s green earth that I am losing this match today,” said Duncan. “The way I look at it, nobody is going to stop me. I am not going to let anybody stop me.”

Perrot missed the green, but made her par putt. Duncan’s birdie putt from 40 feet was 4 feet short, but she holed the next one for a matching par.

The two stood on the tee of the 491-yard 36th hole all square.

Perrot’s third shot from 120 yards fell 18 feet short of the hole. Duncan hit her wedge from 117 yards to within 5 feet.

Perrot made her curling 18-foot uphill putt for a birdie.

Now the pressure was on Duncan. She rammed the putt into the hole to match Perrot’s birdie.

“That was a moment of ‘Yes, let’s go again. Come on, let’s go to the next hole. I am ready,’” said Duncan.

In sudden death at the 143-yard, par-3 37th hole, Perrot’s shot covered the flag, settling some 18 feet past the hole. Duncan gripped down on a 7-iron and ripped a shot that nearly went into the hole.

With the match and the title on the line, both played deliberately. Perrot stroked her putt, but her ball slid by on the left side of the hole. Duncan rapped in her 2-footer and leaped into the arms of her father, David, who was her caddie.

“Nicole made me make the putts,” said Duncan. “She raised my game to another level today. I’m definitely excited to be a part of it.”

“This was the greatest final I have ever seen,” said Judy Bell, past USGA president, “including when Tiger Woods (at the U.S. Amateur) beat Steve Scott in 1996.”

Bell, a two-time Curtis Cup player, has either played in or seen every Women’s Amateur since 1957.

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