There was a time a couple of months ago that then-sophomore UCF Knights golfer Jess Baker said she wanted to quit golf.
She was in the midst of a 2021-2022 season where she would not finish a tournament above par, going +69 on the season with two Top 10 and four Top 20 finishes to her name.
This week, she hoists the trophy in her native England as the 2022 champion of the British Women’s Amateur Championship after a 4&3 victory in the Final over South Carolina rising sophomore Louise Rydqvist. It is the first time a UCF golfer has won the British Amateur title since the tournament’s founding in 1893.
“I think every player goes through that sort of down,” Baker said to George Harper Jnr during the Hunstanton Hangout after the Final match. “I’ve proved a lot to myself this week, and then just to finish it off is just amazing.”
What a performance pic.twitter.com/JHkfRDaFCh— The R&A (@RandA) June 25, 2022
The win caps off six days of golf for Baker. In order to make it to match play, she had to finish in the Top 64 after two rounds of stroke play at Hunstanton Golf Club. She ended up finishing one stroke above the cut line at 148 strokes (+2), advancing to match play with the No. 55 seed.
“If you can get to match play, you have a chance to win,” Marron said of the match play format back in February.
Baker proceeded to go 6-0 in match play against the likes of San Jose State’s Lucia Lopez Ortega (10-seed), Beth Coulter of Ireland (23-seed), Charlotte Back of Germany (7-seed), UCLA’s Emilie Paltrinieri (2-seed), and South Carolina’s Hannah Darling (6-seed). Her opponent in the Final, Rydqvist, came into match play with the No. 24 seed.
Bursting with pride! Congratulations to the British Am Champion Jess Baker!! Knight Nation is ready to celebrate with you!!!— Emily Marron (@EmUCF_Knights) June 25, 2022
With the victory, Baker earns exemptions to the AIG Women’s Open, the US Women’s Open, the Amundi Evian Championship, and an invitation to compete in the Augusta National Women’s Amateur Championship. This August, the AIG Women’s Open will be played for the first time at Muirfield, which has played host to the British Open Championship 16 times, most recently in 2013.
“It’s just going to be the most surreal experience, but again, we’re going to enjoy and embrace every moment of it,” Baker’s father, Steve, said.
With the win in the British Am, @jessbaker2100 receives automatic entry into:— UCF Women's Golf (@UCF_WGolf) June 25, 2022
⚔️ The US Women's Open
⚔️ The AIG Women's Open
⚔️ The Amundi Evian Championship
⚔️ The Augusta National Women's Amateur Championship pic.twitter.com/i5O5ozrwAa
Baker said that there were a lot of times while she was in the U.S. that she wished she could hug her parents. So, this week, she said it was amazing to have her parents among the spectators as she became an amateur champion on her native soil.
“Just that feeling of seeing my dad and running up to him is just something I’ll hold forever,” Baker said.
Watch the highlights of Baker’s Final match here: