Most Epson and LPGA Tour athletes competed in amateur golf and usually had a successful amateur career, leading them to pursue the game professionally. For Kirsten Gillman, her amateur career became more decorated than most at just the age of 16. In her first-ever U.S. Women’s Amateur appearance, Gillman would defeat now LPGA Tour star Brooke Henderson 2up at Nassau Country Club to claim her first U.S. Women’s Amateur title.
“That was the first U.S. Women’s Amateur I ever played in, so I went into the event in 2014 just happy to be there,” said Gillman. “I won the Junior PGA the week before by like 11-shots, so I knew I was definitely playing well with the success I had the week before.”
Four years later, now competing collegiately at the University of Alabama, Gillman would find herself in the finals of the U.S. Women’s Amateur for the second time, competing against her soon-to-be teammate, Jiwon Jeon. Gillman would defeat Jeon 7&6 to be one of 19 players who have won multiple U.S. Women’s Amateur titles.
“I believe I was the only past winner at the 2018 U.S. Women’s Amateur, so I felt like a lot more of the spotlight was on me to play well,” said Gillman. “I feel like my two wins were very different, but I am still very grateful for both of them.”
After her win in 2018, Gillman decided it was time to go pro. She would finish T13 at the 2018 Q-Series to earn her LPGA Tour card. Her rookie season in 2019 was one to remember, finishing second in the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year standings. Gillman continued her success until struggling during the 2021 season, moving her to a dual member status for the LPGA & Epson Tours. Now Gillman is a full-time member of the Epson Tour but is fighting her way back to the LPGA Tour and is finding her form.
In 2023, Gillman and Jeon came full circle and were battling for the trophy at the French Lick Resort Charity Classic on the Epson Tour, where Jeon would get the upper hand and take home the title.
“I didn’t really think about how I played against Jiwon in the finals of the U.S. Am until someone brought it up to me after the round,” explained Gillman. “It was kind of cool because we were battling it out in French Lick the same way we did out there in the U.S. Am. She was my teammate, but the funny thing is, the finals of the U.S. Am was the first time I actually met her. She’s obviously a great player, so it has been fun having a teammate out here and seeing her play great golf.”
The 25-year-old is one of those players just outside the top 10 and looking to get her card back, and that is the only goal for Gillman heading down the last stretch of the season.
“My goal is to definitely get into the top 10,” said Gillman. “Especially after my result in French Lick, I feel like it is more possible. I’m looking to get a couple good finishes coming up. I am going to play these next few events aggressive and try to finish the best I can.”
Gillman will tee off for her first round at the Wildhorse Ladies Golf Classic at 8:32 am PST.