PINEHURST, N.C. – Katelyn Dambaugh may be a new arrival on the USGA scene, but she’s making her presence known at the U.S. Girls’ Junior. After cruising through the quarterfinals and semifinals, Dambaugh will meet Doris Chen in the 36-hole final at the Country Club of North Carolina.
So who is this Carolina wunderkind? The petite, gray-green-eyed Dambaugh may not appear to be much of a threat – that is, until she displays her ability to make birdies and get on a run. It’s exactly what she did during her semifinal match Friday afternoon, taking it to Ally McDonald, 7 and 6.
In her first USGA appearance, Dambaugh has the opportunity to secure a place in history as the first left-handed player to win a women’s championship. It’s a spot Dambaugh didn’t expect to find herself in entering the championship this week, but one she’s excited for nonetheless.
“I just wanted to make the cut – that was my goal,” Dambaugh states matter-of-factly. “Now I’m here.”
Dambaugh, from Goose Creek, S.C., will be a sophomore at Pinewood Prep this fall, and is poised to become a star on the newly-formed women’s golf team. She walks the course in pink golf shoes and a Duke visor – the headwear complete from signatures from Duke basketball standout Demarcus Nelson and LPGA player Brittany Lang. Dambaugh hopes to one day become a Blue Devil, and if she keeps up her current style of play, it doesn’t seem to be out of the question.
Little seems to faze this 15-year-old, who also plays shooting guard for the Pinewood Prep women’s basketball team. It’s possible that said team will show up for Saturday’s final round, which, as Dambaugh’s father Eric stated, might make for a pretty amped-up day.
As in, foam fingers?
No. As in, “Happy Gilmore.”
Though Dambaugh might be lacking in USGA experience, she entered the Girls’ Junior off a run to the semifinals at the South Carolina Junior Match Play Championship earlier this month. She has her good friend Derek Mills on the bag this week, and, maybe most importantly, a hot putter in her hand.
So far, Dambaugh’s game plan for this championship has worked pretty well, and she sees little reason to change it tomorrow.
“Just go out there like I did today. Just first shot, get it in the fairway and just go one shot at a time.”