California Women's Amateur Championship
July 24 - 29, 2023, La Cumbre CC
The California Women’s Amateur Championship is designed for the top female amateur golfers to compete against each other for the state championship. The event utilizes 36 holes of stroke play qualifying followed by single-elimination match play for the top 32 players. Beginning in 2019, the event will be administered by the NCGA and SCGA in partnership with the CWAC Committee. The event will be conducted in Southern California for the first time in 2021 and will rotate between NorCal and SoCal venues moving forward.
Kate Villegas Continues Stellar Summer with State Am Crown
It’s been a stretch nothing short of dominant for Kate Villegas, dating back to her first SCGA trophy in 2022 and culminating in her greatest achievement yet on Saturday at La Cumbre CC.
As she and her dad, who looped the course with her for six days as Villegas grinded through seven rounds, watched Lauren Sung’s par putt to keep the championship match alive lip out on the 15th hole, the moment had finally started to sink in for the rising senior at UCLA.
“It means everything,” Villegas said of winning the 57th edition of the California Women’s Amateur championship. “I honestly can’t believe I’m here. It’s been a long week but I’m so grateful to come out on top.”
Villegas, who displays a remarkably calm and composed demeanor on the course, couldn’t contain her excitement as she instructed her mother to “take a million” photos while she posed with the Helen Lengfeld Trophy.
“I think I’m just [proud of] my mentality most of all,” said Villegas. “I just really focused on taking everything one shot at a time, one day at a time and one match at a time and not letting myself get too far ahead or think of the outcome.”
Ever since she hoisted her first SCGA Women’s Match Play trophy in June of last year at Journey at Pechanga, Villegas has been on a tear. She finished runner-up in the 2023 U.S Women’s Four-Ball with her college teammate, Tiffany Le. Less than a month later, she successfully defended her Women’s Match Play crown at Goose Creek GC. Seventeen days after that, she can now call herself a California state champion, inscribing her name on the same trophy as Amy Alcott, Julie Inkster and Angel Yin.
All said, Villegas has come out on top in 17 of the last 18 matches she’s played in SCGA/USGA-sanctioned events.
“My game has really come a long way,” said Villegas. “I’m just really confident right now and I feel like I’m pretty tough to beat just because I limit my mistakes and I’m really confident in match play.”
But the latest accomplishment at La Cumbre CC was far from effortless. Following two rounds of stroke play on Monday and Tuesday, Villegas emerged as the 11th seed as the 132-player field was cut to the low 32 players for match play.
She defeated Darae Chung, who was in contention at the SCGA Women’s Amateur earlier this year, 3 & 2 to advance to the Round of 16. She followed up with a 2 & 1 win over Daniela Burgos before defeating Zoe Campos (her college teammate who set the La Cumbre CC women’s course record in the stroke play portion) 2 & 1 in the quarterfinals to set up a semifinal matchup with third-seeded Taylor Riley.
Villegas raced out to a three-hole lead through the first five and rode the wave to a comfortable 5 & 4 win to advance to the 18-hole final match on Saturday against Sung, the University of Michigan product who’d knocked out the stroke play medalist in the Round of 16.
After Sung broke the tie with a birdie on No. 2, Villegas won the next three holes with pars on three, four and five to open a two-hole advantage. Despite another birdie from Sung on No. 8 that got her one back, Villegas reclaimed her two-hole lead with another par before the turn on No. 9.
Villegas stayed consistent with pars, maintaining the cushion for four more holes. Her state title became official with two more pars on Nos. 14 and 15 that wrapped up a 4 & 3 victory.
“I knew [Sung] was a little bit of a longer hitter but I really didn’t let that affect me,” said Villegas, “I still laid up. I was just really dialed in with my wedges and my numbers because I knew pars and birdies were good.”
Villegas hit just about every fairway throughout the round, and resolutely kept her lead from the third hole onwards. Following her victory in the 2022 Women's Match Play championship, she transferred to UCLA from UC-Riverside, and as an Arcadia native, has rapidly emerged as one of Southern California's top amateurs, poised to make a significant impact in her final season as a key player for the Bruins.
“I’ve gotten a lot stronger. I’ve gained about 20 yards which is pretty awesome and I think my short game has improved as well. I think those two are the biggest things,” said Villegas. “I’m very excited. Definitely a little confidence booster and I can’t wait to start the season.”
|2023||Kate Villegas||La Cumbre CC|
||San Luis Obispo CC|
||Quail Lodge & GC|
|2018||Ty Akabane||Quail Lodge & GC|
|2017||Brooke Riley||Quail Lodge & GC|
|2016||Sabrina Iqbal||Quail Lodge & GC|
|2015||Jessica Luo||Quail Lodge & GC|
|2014||Carmen Gutierrez Ballon||Quail Lodge & GC|
|2013||Lauren Kim||Quail Lodge & GC|
|2012||Angel Yin||Quail Lodge & GC|
|2011||Jenni JenQ||Quail Lodge & GC|
|2010||Angel Yin||Quail Lodge & GC|
|2009||Casie Cathrea||Quail Lodge & GC|
|2008||Jennifer Johnson||Quail Lodge & GC|
|2007||Lynne Cowan||Quail Lodge & GC|
|2006||Marianne Towersey||Quail Lodge & GC|
|2005||Lynne Cowan||Quail Lodge & GC|
|2004||Mina Harigae||Quail Lodge & GC|
|2003||Mina Harigae||Quail Lodge & GC|
|2002||Mina Harigae||Quail Lodge & GC|
|2001||Mina Harigae||Quail Lodge & GC|
|2000||Lynne Cowan||Quail Lodge & GC|
|1999||Lynne Cowan||Quail Lodge & GC|
|1998||Corey Weworski||Quail Lodge & GC|
|1997||Natalie Gulbis||Quail Lodge & GC|
|1996||Dorothy Delasin||Quail Lodge & GC|
|1995||Leigh Casey||Quail Lodge & GC|
|1994||Andrea Gaston||Quail Lodge & GC|
|1993||Andrea Gaston||Quail Lodge & GC|
|1992||Wendy Kaupp||Quail Lodge & GC|
|1991||Amy Fruwirth||Quail Lodge & GC|
|1990||Claudine Rubin||Quail Lodge & GC|
|1989||Terri Melanson||Quail Lodge & GC|
|1988||Emilee Klein||Quail Lodge & GC|
|1987||Caroline Keggi||Quail Lodge & GC|
|1986||Cindy Scholefield||Pebble Beach GL|
|1985||Anne Quast Sander||Pebble Beach GL|
|1984||Susan Tonkin||Pebble Beach GL|
|1983||Patricia Cornett||Pebble Beach GL|
|1982||Debbie Weldon||Pebble Beach GL|
|1981||Juli Inkster||Pebble Beach GL|
|1980||Mary Enright||Pebble Beach GL|
|1979||Sally Voss Krueger||Pebble Beach GL|
|1978||Patty Sheehan||Pebble Beach GL|
|1977||Patty Sheehan||Pebble Beach GL|
|1976||Marianne Bretton||Pebble Beach GL|
|1975||Pat Cornett||Pebble Beach GL|
|1974||Mary Elizabeth Shea||Pebble Beach GL|
|1973||Amy Alcott||Pebble Beach GL|
|1972||Barbara Handley||Pebble Beach GL|
|1971||Barbara Handley||Pebble Beach GL|
|1970||Shelley Hamlin||Pebble Beach GL|
|1969||Shelley Hamlin||Pebble Beach GL|
|1968||Shelley Hamlin||Pebble Beach GL|
|1967||Shelley Hamlin||Pebble Beach GL|