The Stories We Loved in 2016 December 20, 2016 | Far Hills, N.J. By USGA Staff

Unheralded University of Michigan golfer Nick Carlson made quite a splash in his home state during the U.S. Amateur at Oakland Hills C.C. (USGA/Chris Keane)

The 2016 USGA championship season produced many memorable moments, including Eun Jeong Seong, 16, of the Republic of Korea, becoming the first competitor to claim the U.S. Girls’ Junior and U.S. Women’s Amateur titles in the same year.

Gene Sauers overcame a near-fatal illness to capture the U.S. Senior Open Championship in August. Stewart Hagestad had a comeback for the ages, registering birdies on four of his last five holes to beat 2014 champion Scott Harvey for the U.S. Mid-Amateur title in September. And a week later, Ellen Port, of St. Louis, joined elite company when she won her seventh USGA championship and third U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur.

But there was far more to USGA championships than the individuals who hoisted trophies. These competitions consistently provide compelling stories about the journeys players took to reach the game’s grandest stage.

Here are some of our favorites from 2016: 

O'Sullivan Enjoys Irish Family Reunion at Curtis Cup

Being named to the 2016 USA Curtis Cup Team was a tremendous honor for 2015 U.S. Women's Amateur champion Hannah O'Sullivan. The Match being contested in the Republic of Ireland at Dun Laoghaire Golf Club in June became a family reunion for the 17-year-old from Arizona. (Photo: USGA/Steven Gibbons)


Behind the Scenes With U.S. Open Champion Dustin Johnson

USGA photographer Darren Carroll followed Dustin Johnson after he completed his final round of the 116th U.S. Open at Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club and savored his first major championship. View Gallery

(Photo: USGA/Darren Carroll)

Oakmont Legend On Hand for Record Ninth U.S. Open

Few people can say they have seen every U.S. Open at a particular club, especially one as historic as Oakmont (Pa.) Country Club. Oakmont hosted its record ninth U.S. Open in June and local resident Bob McElhose, 100, was there to witness it, just as he had for the eight previous Opens conducted on this classic layout. Sadly, McElhose died two months after Dustin Johnson hoisted the trophy, but this Oakmont legend had plenty of stories to tell during that memorable week in June. Full Story

(Photo: USGA/Fred Vuich)


Pro Debut at Women's Open Ends With Marriage Proposal

Kasey Petty didn't make the cut in her professional debut in the U.S. Women's Open at CordeValle, but her week ended with a much bigger prize: a proposal from her longtime boyfriend. Full Story

(Photo: USGA/Steven Gibbons)


Cox Making Waves While Finding Inspiration

Kyra Cox, a 2016 U.S. Girls' Junior competitor who advanced to the finals of the 2015 Drive, Chip & Putt Championship at Augusta National Golf Club, first found the inspiration to play golf by attending an event for autistic children. Full Story

(Photo: USGA/Jeff Haynes)


Fred Lee's Life Shaped by 9/11 Twist of Fate

Advancing to the quarterfinals in his first U.S. Junior Amateur was certainly a milestone for Australian Fred Lee. Lee’s life and upbringing were forever changed on Sept. 11, 2001, when his father, David, who worked at the World Trade Center, was fortunate to be away from lower Manhattan on that fateful morning. Full Story

(Photo: USGA/Darren Carroll)


Hipp Gives Back to Local Community Through Golf

Cali Hipp decided to go against the trend of turning professional by stepping away from competitive golf for a year after graduating from the University of Oregon. But the 2016 U.S. Women's Amateur competitor didn't entirely leave the game, as she provided a big assist to the Idaho Junior Golf Foundation. Full Story

(Photo: USGA/Steven Gibbons)


Illinois Coach Mike Small Benefits From Being a Major Competitor

Mike Small has guided the University of Illinois men's golf team to incredible success, but the veteran coach also has game, having qualified for 12 major championships, including several U.S. Opens. It's a skill which he says helps when recruiting top talent to the Big Ten institution. This year, Small, 50, qualified for his first U.S. Senior Open. Full Story

(Photo: USGA/Matt Sullivan)


Carlson Makes Cinderella Run at Oakland Hills

University of Michigan golfer Nick Carlson entered the U.S. Amateur at No. 1981 in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. But playing in his home state at Oakland Hills Country Club, Carlson advanced to the semifinals, much to the delight of his thousands of newfound fans. (Photo: USGA/Chris Keane)




Women's Mid-Amateur Competitors Find High Adventure

U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur competitors Lisa McGill and LeeAnn Lewis have lofty expectations, both on and off the golf course. The two met through USGA championships, but soon discovered a mutual love for high adventure. Full Story

Jacobsen Navigates Hazards On and Off Course

Navigating a challenging USGA championship setup is always challenging, but it pales in comparison to what first-time U.S. Mid-Amateur competitor Matt Jacobsen does on a daily basis. The nephew of 2004 U.S. Senior Open champion Peter Jacobsen and son of multiple USGA championship participant David Jacobsen, works as a police patrolman in Portland, Ore. Full Story

(Photo: USGA/Chris Keane)


U.S. Women's Open Champion Caddies at Senior Women's Amateur

Liselotte Neumann has accomplished many things in the game, including victory in the 1988 U.S. Women's Open. But the Swedish golf star took on a different role during the 2016 U.S. Senior Women's Amateur. Full Story

(Photo: USGA/Matt Sullivan)


Duo Returns to USGA Championships After Four-Decade Hiatus

Neither James Starnes and Ron Perrine thought it would take 40-plus years before they would get another chance to compete in a USGA championship, but that made qualifying for the U.S. Senior Amateur even sweeter for both of them. Full Story

(Photo: USGA/Chris Keane)