FRANKFORT, Ill. (July 24, 2020) – Brigitte Thibault, of Quebec, Canada, and Jackie Lucena, of Chico, California, both survived extra-hole matches Friday to advance to Saturday’s championship match in the 120th Women’s Western Amateur at Prestwick Country Club in Frankfort, Illinois.
Thibault, 21, a Fresno State senior, battled her way into the finals by edging Sophie Burks, 21, Tallassee, Alabama, in a riveting semifinal match that saw five lead changes over the first 15 holes.
The match finally came to an end on the 21st hole – Prestwick’s 375-yard, par 4, No. 3 – after Burks’ tee shot found a creek lining the left side of the fairway. Thibault safely made par, while Burks’ errant shot led to a bogey.
Thibault credited her mental toughness with keeping her in the match despite struggling with her swing.
“I was hitting it everywhere,” she said. “I was just trying to make up and downs. I couldn’t find my swing, so I just wanted to give myself chances to make par.
“I feel like everything I go through is for a reason. I feel like that builds a lot of strength and resilience,” Thibault added. “The harder it is, the stronger I will be.”
Thibault moved into the semifinals with an easier 6 & 4 quarterfinal victory over Ellen Secor, 22, of Portland, Oregon.
Lucena, 19, advanced to the finals by winning the closest match of the quarterfinals against Taylor Kehoe, 16, of Strathroy, Ontario, then posting the day’s most lopsided win in her semifinal match with Chelsea Dantonio, 22, of East Aurora, New York.
A University of California-Davis sophomore, Lucena outlasted Kehoe in 20 holes in a match that, like Thibault’s semifinal match, saw multiple lead changes. Lucena won with a birdie on the second extra hole, the par 5, No. 2. Kehoe had an opportunity to extend the match but missed her 4-foot birdie putt.
In her semifinal match with Dantonio, Lucena won the first four holes to race to a 4-up lead. A birdie on the par 4, No. 8, upped the lead to 5, and another birdie on the par 4, 10th increased the lead to 6-up. She closed the match with a par on the par 3, 12th for a 7 & 6 win.
“I’ve been playing great the whole tournament,” Lucena said. “I knew that if I stayed consistent and didn’t back off when I got to an early lead, I could get it done quickly.
“I knew I didn’t need to do anything more than what I was doing, so I just stuck with it,” she added.
Heading into Saturday’s championship match, Lucena will be looking to her putter to secure a victory. “It’s going to be all about if I make my putts or not. I know my ball striking is consistent right now, and it’s just going to be a matter of if I roll my putts in.”
Thibault will be seeking to become the second Canadian in the last four years to win the Women’s Western Amateur. Maddie Szeryk, who held dual U.S. and Canadian citizenship, won the championship in 2017.
Thibault and Lucena will square off at 7:30 a.m. Saturday in the 18-hole championship match.
The list of past Women’s Western Amateur champions reads like a “Who’s Who” in women’s golf, including current LPGA stars Ariya Jutanugarn, Stacy Lewis, Brittany Lang and Cristie Kerr.
This is Prestwick’s first WWGA tournament since the 1972 Junior Championship – won by a 15-year-old Nancy Lopez. She went on to become one of the best players in the history of professional golf and was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1987.