Kimberly Kim, 14, of Hilo, Hawaii, rallied from a five-hole deficit to defeat Germany's Katharina Schallenberg, 26, 1 up, to become the youngest champion in the 111-year history of the U.S. Women's Amateur Championship.
Kim is the youngest winner since Laura Baugh, who was 16 when she won in 1971.
Down five holes through the 15th hole of the match, Kim did not take the lead until the 30th hole. On the 36th and final hole, after Schallenberg made a 25-foot birdie putt from the fringe, Kim ran in a five-foot birdie putt to win at the 6,380-yard, par-71 Witch Hollow Course of Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club in North Plains, Ore.
"I was shaking so much," said Kim of the putt. "I don't even know where I aimed or anything. I just, like, hit it. It's like, whatever, just hit it."
In a match long on thrills, Schallenberg took an immediate 1-up lead with a birdie on the first hole. She won the fourth with a birdie, the fifth with a par and the sixth with a birdie before Kim claimed a single hole.
On 16, Kim hit her approach shot to within four feet of the hole and birdied to win the hole. She hit superb iron shots on the closing holes, making a two-footer for a winning birdie at the 17th and a 4-foot winning birdie putt on the 18th. Schallenberg went to lunch with a 2-up lead.
Kim, who earlier in the year was the runner-up at the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship, played somewhat tentatively in the morning. But she turned her game around and began firing at the flagsticks in the afternoon at the advice of her caddie. Frank Nau.
"Actually, he just said we're going to play smash-mouth golf," Kim said.
Schallenberg watched her lead begin to trickle away at the 22nd hole, which Kim won with a birdie.
"I just made a couple of mistakes, maybe, or the balls ... could have bounced better, I guess," said Schallenberg, who was tryng to become the first German player to win a USGA title. "And we weren't reading the greens as well as Kimberly and Frank did."
Kim squared the match on the par-3 29th hole, where she made a nine-foot birdie putt after a superb iron shot to the green. She won the 30th hole with a par after Schallenberg's approach shot bounded through the green and into the fringe and she bogeyed. Kim was then 2 up.
Schallenberg came right back, winning the 31st with a par from the fringe. Kim failed to get up and down from 10 feet short of the green and was now 1 up.
The margin held when the players came to the par-4 35th hole and both birdied. On the 36th hole, with a 1-up lead, Kim's third shot to the par-5 was a chip. Schallenberg was 40 yards short of the hole and her wedge shot came up about a foot short in the fringe. Kim pitched five feet past the hole.
Schallenberg managed to make the 25-foot birdie putt from the fringe.
Kim's putt that won the championship, she said, wasn't characteristic. "I was never really a clutch player, I guess," she said. "But that was clutch."