KOHLER, Wis. – As Angel Yin walked quietly to the first tee for a final practice round at Blackwolf Run, no crowds rushed her, no one asked for her autograph and no one really even took notice. The 13-year-old kept her head down as she moved inside the ropes.
But for all the lack of attention just after high noon on a scorching Wisconsin Wednesday, Yin’s name is being whispered around the course and mentioned frequently in the press room. That’s the result of being the youngest player in a U.S. Women’s Open, even when teenagers are more commonplace than ever in the national championship. For perspective, however, Yin wasn’t yet alive when Se Ri Pak won the last Women’s Open at Blackwolf Run. She wasn’t born for three more months.
Let that sink in.
Yin, at an unimposing 5 feet 3 inches, drives the ball 280 yards – and accurately – with her new driver. She likes the 7.5-degree loft. She guesses she mis-hits about one drive per round, which is a stat she can live with, no doubt.
“I hit it really long, so I’m at more of an advantage,” she said of a Pete Dye layout that will play at nearly 7,000 yards this week.
Yin is playing in her first U.S. Women’s Open this week after getting into the field as an alternate from the sectional qualifier in Industry Hills, Calif. Early-week paperwork listed her as a professional, but Yin shakes her head. Very much an amateur, she has dreams of playing for Stanford someday.
It’s been an unusual year for Yin, because though she qualified for her first Women’s Open, she didn’t earn a spot in the U.S. Girls’ Junior, to be played in her home state of California. The Arcadia native hopes to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Amateur the day after the Open. She’ll realign her priorities when the time comes.
“My focus is on the Open, this tournament,” she said.
Before a Women’s Open start, Yin’s biggest claim to fame had been playing to a draw at the Arizona Silver Belle in January when she and Briana Mao ended regulation in a tie. Mao, also in the field this week as an amateur, and Yin went eight extra holes until darkness forced a tie. Yin doesn’t have much to say about that memory. This week promises to bring much bigger things.
Last year, 13-year-old Mariel Galdiano finished last at the Women’s Open. Still, there’s not much pressure on Yin this week because she’s so young and under the radar, and that’s the beauty of being the underdog.
“I don’t feel too nervous because I’m not the best,” Yin wisely said. “Just the youngest.”