It wasn’t all that long ago that Brigitte Thibault was competing in the Cheerleading World Championships. The Canadian didn’t pick up golf until age 15 and now her name will be etched alongside former World No. 1s like Ariya Jutanugarn, Stacy Lewis and Cristie Kerr on the Women’s Western Amateur trophy.
Thibault, a senior at Fresno State, claimed the 120th staging of the event with a 4-and-3 victory over Jackie Lucena, of Chico, California, in the 18-hole final at Prestwick Country Club in Frankfort, Illinois.
“It means everything to be honest,” said Thibault, who joins Maddie Szeryk (2017) as Canadians who have won the title.
As a finalist, Lucena earned her way into next month’s U.S. Women’s Amateur field. Thibault had already secured a spot.
“It was definitely a grind,” said Lucena, a UC-Davis sophomore who never led in the final. “I wasn’t having my best game. I was just trying to roll with what I had, and it ended up not working out. I definitely realized that I wasn’t as free and as comfortable as in my previous rounds.”
Thibault, 21, said she felt like she was a on a roller coaster all week with her ball-striking and had to rely heavily on her short game and mental toughness to advance. She rode the momentum of a back-and-forth semifinal match that went 21 holes on Friday into the finale.
“I had this feeling that I was meant to be here,” she said.
The 2019 Mountain West Conference individual champion was heavily involved in gymnastics and soccer growing up before putting her focus into competitive cheerleading. The pressure of having to perform at a high level on a team of 30 helped to shape her drive.
“I definitely learned how to work in teams and control my anxiety with the numbers of people that were watching us at the championship,” she said.
Ultimately, injuries to her wrists and knees from jumping led her away from cheerleading and into golf. She ascended quickly, dropping her handicap by 24 strokes in three years and qualifying for the LPGA’s CP Women’s Open as an amateur in 2016.
“I feel like for me it was always my obsession with being better and being great,” said Thibault of her speedy rise, “my work ethic.”