Having Seen How It's Done, Wilson Wins Girls' Junior Title

July 23, 2022
By Michael R Fermoyle

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. -- A year ago, 18-year-old Rose Zhang dominated the U.S. Girls Junior Championship. She came into the tournament as the favorite, won the qualifying medal by three shots and pretty much cruised through the match-play portion of the tournament, eventually beating another 18-year-old, Bailey Davis 6&4 in the final. 

This year, an 18-year-old named Natalie Vo shared medalist honors with a 17-year-old, Saki Baba.

But by the time the quarterfinals were played, there was hardly anyone older than 16 left in the tournament. The average age of the players who were left kept getting younger, and on Saturday the match that would determine the champion pitted two girls neither of whom is old enough to hold a drivers license. One of them isn't even old enough to have a driver's permit. Ultimately, it was a 15-year-old, Yana Wilson, the No. 3 seed, claiming the crown with a 3&2 victory over Gianna Clemente, a 14-year-old from Florida. 

The title match, which was scheduled for 36 holes, was even going into the 18th hole of the first round. Clemente, the No. 16 seed, had just pulled even with a birdie at the 17th, but Wilson, who is from Henderson, Nev., won the 18th with a par. So she went to lunch 1 up.

It didn't stay that way for long, once the afternoon session began. Clemente, who made eight birdies and no bogeys in her 6&5 semifinal victory over Maria Jose Marin, won the 373-yard, par-4 first hole with a  par, but Wilson won the par-3 third (190 yards) with a birdie. Clemente  responded by winning the fourth with a par and the fifth with a birdie. The next three holes were halved, and then Wilson took over.

Wilson won the 471-yard, par-5 ninth with a birdie, and after Clemente dumped her approach shot into a bunker, Wilson won the 10th with a par to go 1 up once again. She went 2 up when she birdied the 137-yard, par-3 13th hole. Clemente lipped out her par putt at the 15th and lost the hole to Wilson's par. When they halved the 16th with pars, the match was over.

Wilson made it to the quarterfinals last year, and she was beaten in that round by Zhang. Rather than go home right away, Wilson hung around for an extra day, and watched Zhang win the crown with her victory over Davis. 

"I wanted to watch her in the finals," Wilson explained after collecting her trophy Saturday. "And I told myself I was going to win this thing this year."  

U.S. Girls' Junior

At The Club at Olde Stone

Par 73, 6,565 yards

Bowling Green, Ky. 

Stroke play

Final results (the top 64 will advance to match play Wednesday morning)

T1. Natalie Vo, San Jose, Calif.              71-68--139

T1. Saki Baba, Japan                              70-69--139

T3. Olivia Duan, Cupertino, Calif.            71-69--140

T3. Yana Wilson, Henderson, Nev.          69-71--140

5. Catherine Park, Irvine, Calif.                72-69--141

T6. Alexia Siehl, Fort Mill, S.C.                71-71--142

T6. Fiona Xu, New Zealand                     72-70--142

T6. Justice Bosio, Australia                      69-73--142

T6. Karen Tsuru, Carlsbad, Calif.             70-72--142

T6. Samantha Olson, Phoenix                  72-70--142

T11. Reese McCauley, Inver Grove Hts. 74-69--143

T11. Farah O'Keefe, Austin, Texas            69-74--143

T11. Maria Jose Marin, Colombia              74-69--143

Failed to advance -- (9 players tied for 58th at 151; so there will be a 9-for-7 playoff Wednesday morning to complete the match play field of 64)

Bella McCauley, Inver Grove Hts.            76-76--152

Maria Jose Barragan, Mexico                    82-74--156

Match Play

Round of 64

(1) Saki Baba def. (64) Brynn Kort 6&4

(8) Samantha Olson def. (57) Vanessa Zhang 23 holes

(4) Olivia Duan def. (61) Kyra Ly 2&1

(13) Reese McCauley def. (52) Kaila Elsayegh 3&2

(60) Kylee Choi def. (5) Catherine Park 1 up

(63) Thienna Huynh def. (2) Natalie Vo 4&3

(58) Charissa Shang def. (7) Alexia Siehl 2&1

(3) Yana Wilson def. (62) Morgan Smith 2&1

(59) Jennifer Seo def. (6) Karen Tsuru 2&1

Round of 32

(32) Kiara Romero def. (1) Baba 1 up

(16) Gianna Clemente def. (17) Adrian Anderson 2 up

(40) Kynadie Adams def. (8) Olson 5&4

(36) Ashley Kim def. (4) Duan 4&3

(13) McCauley def. (45) Kaitlyn Schroeder 20 holes

(12) Maria Jose Marin def. (21) Bailey Shoemaker 5&4

(31) Grace Kilcrease def. (63) Hunyh 2&1

(18) Sara Im def. (15) Katie Li 3&2

(39) Asterisk Talley def. (58) Shang 2&1

(3) Wilson def. (35) Morgan Ketchum 1 up

(59) Seo def. (27) Laura Zaretsky concession

Round of 16

(16) Clemente def. Romero 2&1

(9) Justice Bosio def. (40) Adams 

(13) McCauley def. (36) Kim 2&1

(12) Marin def. (60) Kylee Choi 6&4

(18) Im def. (31) Kilcrease 3&2

(10) Fiona Xu def. (39) Asterisk Talley 2&1

(3) Wilson def. (19) Ting-Hsuan Huang 4&3

(43) Nicole Gal def. (59) Seo 1 up


(16) Clemente def. Bosio 2&1

(12) Marin def. (13) McCauley 2&1

(18) Im def. (10) Xu 1 up

(3) Wilson def. (43) Gal 5&4


(16) Clemente def. (12) Marin 6&5

(3) Wilson def. (18) Im 3&2


(3) Wilson def. (16) Clemente 3&2

Michael R Fermoyle

Mike Fermoyle’s amateur golf career features state titles in five different decades, beginning with the State Public Links (1969), three State Amateurs (1970, 1973 and 1980), and four State Four-Ball championships (1972, 1985, 1993 and 2001). Fermoyle was medalist at the Pine to Palm in 1971, won the Resorters in 1972, made the cut at the State Amateur 18 consecutive years (1969 to 1986), the last being 2000, and amassed 13 top-ten finishes. Fermoyle also made it to the semi-final matches at the MGA’s annual match play championship, the Players’, in 1982 and 1987.

Fermoyle enjoyed a career as a sportswriter at the St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch before retiring in 2006. Two years later he began a second career covering the golf beat exclusively for the MGA and its website, mngolf.org, where he ranks individual prep golfers and teams, provides coverage on local amateur and professional tournaments and keeps tabs on how Minnesotans are faring on the various professional tours.

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