Jensen Castle remains humble after Women’s Amateur title

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Jensen Castle and her caddie, Tom Moylan, discussed strategy Sunday during the championship match of the U.S. Women’s Amateur. Castle became the first University of Kentucky golfer to win the event. Darren Carroll | USGA

Barkley Truax

The numbers didn’t believe she could do it and frankly, neither did she.

Jensen Castle went from the 63rd seed, to unlikely champion in the 2021 U.S. Women’s Amateur championship Sunday.

She only began to believe she could do it after knocking off the reigning NCAA champion and player of the year Rachel Heck on the 19th hole. “I’m here for it,” Castle said about going up against the biggest star in women’s collegiate golf. “Whatever happens, happens tomorrow and the golf that I’m playing … (Heck and I) played some solid golf.”

“It was so cool to see how natural and stress free it was for me to be in that situation,” Castle said.

Coming off a rib injury, Castle didn’t believe that she could make it all the way to match play, so she under-packed. She didn’t bring enough clothes with her for the entire duration of the match — everyone’s nightmare scenario on any trip.

She had two practice round outfits, two stroke play outfits, one match play and one other golf outfit. “I was able to mix and match after that,” she said. “I had no expectations to make it that far, so I didn’t prepare.”

Her outfits were the least of her worries on the course, as her focus remained on the golf course despite some shaky shots. Castle pointed out a bounce that went her way on the 11th hole:

“Everything evens out,” she said. “You’re going to get bounces like that and terrible bounces and breaks.”

Castle said that in one of her matches on the 17th hole, she was one up and hit a shot just short that got plugged into the bunker. She continued to reiterate that those bounces go both ways and in this case, she got lucky. 

“It was just a tournament and I played well when I needed to play well,” she said. “Every tournament, you’re going to have good and bad rounds … that’s golf; that’s life.”

“Golf is such a mental game,” she said. In golf, you can’t show a lot of emotion and it showed in the first match she played, choosing the wrong club on the sixth hole and became extremely frustrated going in on seven, where she lost there as well.

She asked herself, “Why are you worried about those last holes? There’s nothing you can do now to change it.”

“In golf, you can’t worry about the past … You need to make sure you’re worried about that shot at the time, that’s the only shot that matters.” After this week, Castle believes her mental game is as strong as ever, something her teammates have told her since she stepped foot on campus.

While she’s still basking in the glory of winning the Amateur title, it’s back to her normal life as of Tuesday morning, where she arrived at work in South Carolina at 5:30 a.m. after a 15-hour drive back from the tournament, which was held in New York.

 

Today, she’s feeling the effects of the 36-rounds of golf she endured over the weekend. “My ribs hurt, I have such bad blisters,” she said.

“Last night, I went on a three mile walk and I don’t think I can wear tennis shoes for a while,” she added.

Despite being the first UK Women’s golfer to become an amateur champion, she’s not putting any pressure on herself or her teammates this upcoming season.

“Our team is so special. The team dynamic is crazy good. There’s no drama, we all get along great,” Castle said. “We all love to see each other succeed. There’s no jealousy. I’m not going to say we’re going to have any expectations. We’re still going to focus on the same thing we have, just one tournament at a time.” 

Despite being the center of attention for the moment, Castle has remained humble and hasn’t forgotten her roots.

“I’m sure I’m not going to be the last (Kentucky amateur champion),” Castle said. “Just to represent Kentucky and be the second golfer (to win) out of South Carolina, it just means a lot.”