Kate Villegas became the first repeat champion in Women’s Match Play Championship history as the UCLA transfer clung on to an early lead to knock off Missouri’s Jade Zamora, to capture the 2023 championship at Goose Creek GC.
After running through her first two matches with ease (6 & 4 and 7 & 5 victories), Villegas came back from three-down in the semifinals and beat Chloe Lam in 20 holes to set up a shot at a title defense.
Villegas was the one that set the tone in the championship match as she broke the tie with a birdie on No. 6 to go one-up on Zamora. After rolling in another birdie on No. 8 to go two-up, she bogeyed consecutive holes, and Zamora took advantage by converting pars to even the match.
But the tie was short lived as Villegas responded with her third birdie of the day on No. 11 to regain the lead at one-up. That lead doubled when Zamora logged a bogey on No. 15. At that point, it was Villegas’ championship to lose. Even though Zamora impressively saved par on No. 16 to halve the hole and keep the match alive, she couldn’t muster any more magic, as a halved hole on No. 17 officially ended the match and gave Villegas her second SCGA title in as many years.
Villegas never trailed in the championship match. Through her four matches this week, she was tied or in the lead for 55 of the 64 holes she played. With the victory, she earns exemption into both the 2024 SCGA Women’s Amateur Championship and 2024 California Women’s Amateur Championship.