Yealimi Noh beats Alexa Pano in U.S. Girls’ Junior final


PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Yealimi Noh beat Alexa Pano 4 and 3 on Saturday in the U.S. Girls’ Junior title match to cap a long day at Poppy Hills.

The 16-year-old Noh, from Concord, California, reached the final in the morning with a 3-and-2 victory over Gina Kim of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in the fog-delayed semifinals. Noh won a week after breaking the Girls Junior PGA Championship scoring record at 24-under 264 at Kearney Hill in Lexington, Kentucky.

“It really hasn’t sunk in yet,” Noh said. “It’s been such a long day, too. I just haven’t gotten to chance to fully realize what this all means, but it really means a lot to me. And to be able to win it right after Junior PGA, which is a really big accomplishment of mine. I knew I could do it, but I was a little unsure because I haven’t always had the best results in match play.”

Noh played 49 holes Saturday and Pano 51, believed to be the most ever on the final day of a USGA championship.

“I was like, ‘Oh, my God, my feet are already dying,'” Noh said.

The 13-year-old Pano, from Lake Worth, Florida, won the third and fourth holes to take a 2-up lead. Noh took the fifth with a birdie, but dropped 2 down again when Pano birdied the seventh.

Noh won Nos. 8-10 with birdies to take the lead, finished the first 18 with a 4-up advantage and pushed it to six with birdies on the 22nd and 23rd. In 16 holes from No. 8 to 23, she won 11 holes and lost one.

Pano took the 30th and 32nd with pars to cut the deficit to four, and Noh ended it with halve for par on the par-3 33rd.

“She played really solid the whole day,” Pano said. “Overall, she just killed it the whole week and played insanely well.”

Pano advanced to the final with a 1-up semifinal victory over medalist Lucy Li of Redwood Shores, California.

The USGA planned to play the semifinals and first 18 of the championship match Saturday and return Sunday for the final 18, but the players decided to try to finish Saturday

Noh earned a spot next year in the U.S. Women’s Open at the Country Club of Charleston in South Carolina. She also gets spot in the next two U.S. Women’s Amateurs.

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