“It was great,” Bae said in a television interview. “Left and right, all I heard was ‘Go Dawgs’ and ‘Go UGA’ and all the support. I really felt happy. I never really heard that much roaring before in my life. I think it will be one moment in my life that I will really cherish.
Bae’s approach on the second playoff hole, the 10th, went long and left. From underneath the trees, her punch shot went over the green and into a bunker. Her fourth shot ended up six feet from the hole. She wouldn’t get a chance to putt.
Zhang hit the green in regulation. Her first putt ended up two inches from the hole. She tapped in for the victory.
“I had a great position, but I kind of tugged it a little bit,” Bae said. " ... (The third shot) was really challenging. I really couldn’t take a back swing. My goal was to get it out of there and hopefully it would trickle onto the green. I just hit it a little too far.”
Each player parred the 18th, the first playoff hole.
Bae and Zhang finished at 9 under par to advance to the playoff.
“I’m extremely proud of myself to even get the chance to go to a playoff and possibly win the title,” Bae said. “I’ve worked really hard, and I really just want to say thank you to everyone, especially to my caddie and my coach. Honestly, without him, I don’t think I would be able to come.”
Bae entered the final round, in third place, six strokes behind Zhang. Bae shot a 2-under 70 on the day. Zhang shot 4-over 76. Bae moved past Andrea Lignall, who finished third at 6 under.
Bae moved into a tie with Zhang when she hit her approach shot inches from the cup on the par-4 17th. The tap-in birdie pulled her even at 9 under.
Zhang had a two-shot lead, at 10 under, at the par-5 15th. She elected to go for the green in two, but her second shot found the pond fronting the green. Zhang made a bogey and saw her lead drop to one stroke over Bae.
Bae said she tends not to look at the leaderboard, but she took a peek on the back nine.
“I glanced back and saw that I was a shot behind. I was like, I can do this, let’s get it,” Bae said. “The last three holes when the roaring was so big, I realized I had a good chance.”
The final round was delayed by more than three hours because of inclement weather.
Bae shot rounds of 69 and 68 in the first two rounds at Champions Retreat Golf Club. The field of 72 golfers was cut to 31 following the first two rounds. A year ago, Bae shot a 9-over 153 and missed the cut in her first ANWA appearance.
Bae, 21 and a fifth-year senior, has had a standout season with the Bulldogs, with seven top-5 finishes in nine tournaments.
Zhang, a sophomore at Stanford, has been the No. 1-ranked world amateur since 2020. She has played in all four ANWAs. She shot 66 and 65 in the first two rounds.
Bae used Georgia women’s golf coach Josh Brewer as her caddie. She credited her coach for helping her focus after a rocky start to the round. After a birdie on the second hole, Bae took a double bogey on the third hole. She rebounded with three birdies and pars the rest of the way.
“He played a major factor today,” Bae said of Brewer. “I was really nervous and really tense the first few holes. He was just right there next to me, trying to crack jokes and try to get me to eat and drink. That’s a really key thing for me, trying to get me to stay patient. I think he did a fantastic job.”