Canadian golf fans had a big reason to celebrate this weekend and it’s thanks to a name you might not have heard much about yet, but you will a lot more moving forward.
Brigitte Thibault, a native of Rosemere, Quebec won the 120th playing of the Women’s Western Amateur.
Thibault, who is a senior at Fresno State University, defeated UC Davis’ Jackie Lucena 4&3 in the final match.
Thibault was 1-up through six holes but lost holes 8 and 9 to make the match all square.
“I didn’t want to get my hopes up, because I know my game right now is kind of on a roller coaster,” Thibault told the Women’s Western Golf Association. “I feel like I gained a lot of momentum from yesterday. I just kept the faith. I kept fighting and didn’t give up”
Thibault won holes 13-15 to earn the 4&3 victory at Prestwick Country Club in Frankfort, Illinois.
— Women's Western Golf Association (@WWGAGOLF) July 25, 2020
She battled hard through a 21-hole match on Friday in the semi-finals and that mental toughness helped carry her right to the winner’s circle.
“I think it was staying focused on the little details and controlling what I could control and stay in the zone and stay present. Somehow I was able to build momentum – I was able to make par from some crazy places. I felt like I belonged,” said Thibault.
“I trusted my instincts and made it happen. I learned a lot. I always knew I had that mental strength but the more often I see it come out it’s pretty awesome to experience and learn from that.”
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WOMEN’S WESTERN AMATEUR CHAMPION ✔️ in the books. You either win or learn and i was lucky enough to experience both this week. Not only does this win mean a lot to me from its historic background but knowing that I am only the 3rd canadian to get my name on the trophy since 1901, It truly means the world. HUGE thanks to @thegolfcanada for the massive amount of support yearly , to my team of coaches for believing in my vision and for my family for loving me no matter the performance . It truly takes an army and I feel blessed to be surrounded by the best team. I say this with a grateful heart by even having the opportunity to play golf during Covid 19. Another big thanks to @prestwickgolf and all of the staff , the course was in impeccable shape. @wwgagolf for welcoming us in such great manner . Lastly , to all of the fans that came out , especially these last 2 days . IT WAS UNBELIEVABLE. Crowds like I’ve never seen before at the Western. The energy was awesome and I definitely build momentum upon that. This year has been challenging but moving forward and being my best self is my number one priority… One day at a time. Travelling to the United States by myself is an important growth period for me and I am proud of the person I am becoming through the ups and downs… I am building resiliency and humility in a world of change. BT @rbc @adidasca @audicanada @cpwomensopen @footjoyca @whoop
Thibault joins fellow Canadian Maddie Szeryk on the list of Women’s Western Amateur champions. Szeryk, who now plays on the Symetra Tour, won the event in 2017. Canadian Garrett Rank (who is an NHL referee) won the Men’s Western Amateur in 2019.
AN INTERESTING JOURNEY
Thibault didn’t start playing golf until she was 15 – she was a highly competitive cheerleader until that point – and despite winning an NCAA event last season as well as various junior and amateur events in both Ontario and Quebec this win was definitely her biggest to date.
Thibault told Golfweek that injuries to her wrist and knees eventually kept her from cheerleading and led her to pick up a golf club. She dropped her handicap by 24 strokes in just three years. She qualified for a spot in the CP Women’s Open as an amateur in 2016 and has been part of Canada’s young squad the last two seasons.
She was also Canada’s only competitor at the inaugural Augusta National Women’s Amateur.
Other winners of the Women’s Western Amateur include former world No. 1’s Ariya Jutanugarn, Stacy Lewis, and Cristie Kerr.
Thibault said this win was big for her confidence, and called it an ‘historic’ title to be able to win.
“It’s fun to see how many great players won that tournament also. It’s good on that side of the confidence – I knew I could win without my best. I feel like I always knew that but having results from all the hard work and especially now because it’s (my game was) rocky it’s hard to still trust it,” she said. My biggest strength was to trust the unknown and I came out on the winning side.”
Next up for Thibault is competing at the U.S. Women’s Amateur at the Woodmont Country Club in Rockville, Maryland. She said if school is back on in the fall she’ll return for her senior season at Fresno State, otherwise she plans to go to Europe to play in the Women’s British Amateur or stay in California to work on her game during the winter.