Gallagher Holds Off Corrie Kuehn To Win Title at Troon C.C.

By Tom Mackin

| Oct 05, 2023 | Scottsdale, Ariz.

Gallagher Holds Off Corrie Kuehn To Win Title at Troon C.C.

What Happened

After playing a practice round with Sarah Gallagher before the start of the 61st U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur, Brenda Corrie Kuehn had a premonition. “I was like, dang, this girl is hitting it really well. This girl is going to win the thing.”

Fortunately for Gallagher, Kuehn turned out to be right. Unfortunately for Kuehn, she was Gallagher’s opponent in Thursday’s 18-hole final.

Making her first appearance in the championship, Gallagher, 50, of Canton, Ga., outlasted Kuehn, of Asheville, N.C., 1-up to win the title at Troon Country Club in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Consistency was critical to Gallagher’s success during the entire championship. After rounds of 75 and 78 to finish in a tie for seventh during stroke play, she was down during just three holes, including two during her Round of 64 match, throughout 104 holes of match play.

“I hit the ball really, really well, and putted quite well,” said Gallagher. “Having a lot of confidence in the number I had into the green, because Erin [Packer, her caddie] is so good at providing all the information, allowed me to make good club choices. My misses were in the right spots too, which was important.”

After jumping out early and winning the second through fifth holes, with birdies on the fourth and fifth, Gallagher comfortably maintained a lead, reaching the 13th hole 4-up in the match. But then Kuehn, a veteran of more than 45 USGA championships, came fighting back, winning the next two holes to cut the lead to 2.

“I just tried to keep putting it in play and making her have to hit good shots,” said Kuehn. “I didn't want to just kind of whack it out and say, Merry Christmas. I just wanted to hit good shots and have her make it.”

That was no surprise to Gallagher. “Brenda is such an incredible putter, I probably would have rather been 12-up to feel like I had a safe lead,” she said. “I knew she was going to start making putts and making birdies. She’s so good.”

Packer expected Kuehn’s charge as well. “Brenda has been here a lot more than Sarah has, so we knew that she wasn't going to go down without a fight,” she said. “We knew she was going to make birdies. We just kept talking about just staying focused on the shot she was hitting, on the present, do not think about anything else, because once you do that, you get ahead of yourself, and you get out of what you're trying to do.”

Sarah Gallagher leaned heavily on her caddie, Erin Packer (daughter of 2-time U.S. Senior Open champ Allen Doyle) en route to winning the title. (USGA/Jason E. Miczek)

Sarah Gallagher leaned heavily on her caddie, Erin Packer (daughter of 2-time U.S. Senior Open champ Allen Doyle) en route to winning the title at Troon Country Club. (USGA/Jason E. Miczek)

Gallagher bounced back with a birdie on the short par-3 15th to go 3-up. “That was a first for the week,” she said. “I’ve been in that right bunker every day. I told Erin, ‘I’m going to get that hole today,’ so I’m pretty glad I did.”

But Kuehn then won 16 and 17, cutting Gallagher’s lead to 1 heading to the 18th hole. As they stood together on that tee, Gallagher listened once more to Packer. “She said ‘You knew this would happen.’ Meaning we knew Brenda was going to come back. We had talked about it. I said yeah. She just said, ‘One shot at a time, and let’s do this.’”

It wasn’t easy, though. Gallagher’s approach bounced through the green, while Kuehn’s landed on the front portion of the green leaving a long putt. Gallagher then stubbed her chip, leaving it short of the green before chipping five feet past the hole. Kuehn’s first putt was short of the hole and her next putt slid just right of the hole, leaving Gallagher with a bogey putt to halve the hole and close out the match.    

“I hit a lot of five-foot putts when I practice, and so I just was trying to talk to myself that this is just like every day,” she said. “I spot putt, so I look for a little spot. I had one on my putt on the 19th hole yesterday (in her semifinal match against Kim Keyer-Scott), and I had one on that putt today, and I lost it when I got over the ball, which is why I backed off, so that I could find it again.”

After the putt dropped, she exchanged an emotional embrace with Packer.

“I’ve worked really hard and was fortunate enough to have Erin come with me,” said Gallagher. “It was so huge to have her out here with me. I don’t think I would have done it without her on the bag. One, because she is one of my best friends. Second, she’s a phenomenal player, and she’s also a phenomenal caddie. The golf course plays completely different in the morning than it does in the afternoon, so having somebody that can tell you how the numbers are different, and that you can trust it, is huge.”

The respect between Gallagher and her caddie was matched by the respect Gallagher and Kuehn share for each other.

“She played like a true champion today,” said Kuehn. “I’m so proud of her and the friendship that we have.”

“She’s got such a name in amateur golf, so it was a real honor to get to play against her in the final,” said Gallagher.  “What a great day we had.”

The new champion will be on a red-eye flight tonight back to Georgia, where her husband and daughter will pick her up and then head straight to a horse show in Florida, where Gallagher’s daughter is set to compete.

And she knows where the Senior Women’s Amateur trophy will be the entire time on the trip home.

“I'm probably going to hold it on my lap on the airplane.”

What the champion receives

  • A gold medal 
  • Custody of the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur Trophy for one year 
  • A 10-year exemption into the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur 
  • An exemption into the 2024 U.S. Women’s Amateur at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla.
  • Two-year exemptions into the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur (2024 and 2025) and U.S. Senior Women’s Open (2024 and 2025)  
Brenda Corrie Kuehn (left) put up a fight to the very end, but came up a hole short against Sarah Gallagher in Thursday's final. (USGA/Jason E. Miczek)

Brenda Corrie Kuehn (left) put up a fight to the very end, but came up a hole short against Sarah Gallagher in Thursday's final. (USGA/Jason E. Miczek)


  • Sarah Gallagher is the first Senior Women’s Amateur winner from Georgia since match play started in 1997, and the second overall, following Cecile Maclaurin, of Savannah, in 1976 at Monterey Peninsula Country Club (Dunes Course) in Pebble Beach, Calif. Several men from Georgia have won the U.S. Senior Amateur, most recently Rusty Strawn in 2022.
  • Gallagher won the inaugural Georgia Women’s Mid-Amateur in June at the Country Club of Columbus with a birdie on the first playoff hole. Her opponent? Her caddie this week, Erin Packer. Packer is the daughter of two-time U.S. Senior Open champion Allen Doyle and the wife of Golf Channel producer Brandt Packer.

  • By earning an exemption into the 2024 U.S. Women’s Amateur, finalist Brenda Corrie Kuehn is likely to be joined in that field by her daughter, Rachel Kuehn, currently No. 10 in the Women's World Amateur Golf Ranking (the top 50 are exempt into the championship). She also is exempt by virtue of being a USA Curtis Cup competitor in 2021 and 2022, and representing the USA in the 2022 and 2023 Women's World Amateur Team Championships.

  • Troon Country Club superintendent Seth Miller and his 25-person grounds crew received plaudits from players for providing superb course conditions, especially on the greens, during the championship. Even more impressive were the results they created despite dealing with record-breaking temperatures experienced this summer in the Valley of the Sun.


“I’m going to put it on the island in my kitchen. Actually no, I can’t do that, my kids will put stuff in it. I’ll have to put it some place where they can’t fill it with who knows what.” – Sarah Gallagher about where she will put the Senior Amateur trophy at her home in Canton, Ga. for the next year.

“When you stop breathing you can’t feel your hands, and you need to feel your hands when you have a wedge in them.” – Sarah Gallagher about the impact of feeling nervous coming down the stretch in the final match.

“Oh, I would love to take her down. The problem is there is so much trash talking at our house that if one person wins, I mean, it would go on forever, and I have a feeling it's not going to be me, it would be her. I don't really want to give her that opportunity to trash talk me for the rest of my life because there would be a lot of trash talking. It's awful.” – Brenda Corrie Kuehn on the longshot of facing her daughter Rachel during match play next August in the U.S. Women’s Amateur at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla.

“I'm exhausted. I've been exhausted since Monday. I played two practice rounds and two stroke play. I was exhausted by Monday, and I kept waking up going, I'm tired. I've been packed in my car since Tuesday. I had plane reservations on Tuesday. Oh, I forgot to extend the car, by the way. Oops.” – Brenda Corrie Kuehn on the marathon week

Tom Mackin is an Arizona-based freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on USGA websites.