PEBBLE BEACH — Allisen Corpuz doesn’t remember much about when she first got into golf. She was four years old, maybe five. Time has blurred the origin story. Her parents’ house was on the left side of the 7th hole of Kapolei Golf Course in Hawai’i, and her father Marcos loved the game and wanted to share it with her, so he put a club in her hands and dragged her to the driving range on weekends.

The memories, initially, were not warm ones.

“Honestly, I sucked,” Corpuz said. “I just wanted to get better. I think that's just kind of who I am as a person. Just if something can be done better, that's how I want to do it. I mean, no one can hit the ball at first, right?”

Over time, that determination morphed into a quiet intensity.

At first, her goal was simple. Hit it to the first flag. Each week, each month, each year, the goal would expand — hit it a little farther. That little driving range, though no one knew it at the time, turned out to be fertile ground, the soil where the seed of a prodigy was planted.

“I just had so much fun,” Corpuz said.

Joy is not an emotion that people typically associate with Corpuz. On the golf course, she is buttoned up and resolute, never revealing much. Her game often feels like a reflection of her personality: steady and never flashy. Through the first 68 holes of the U.S. Women’s Open, she stacked up fairways and greens like a brick mason might build a wall, connecting one part to the next, slowly constructing something solid. But on the 69th hole of the tournament, the 15th at Pebble, a flicker of emotion broke through. She rolled in a birdie putt (her sixth of the day) and she offered up a tiny fist pump after she tucked the ball in her pocket. She had a four-shot lead over Charley Hull.

“I think that was the moment when I kind of knew, like, I just need to get home,” Corpuz said.

A meaningless bogey on 17, then an uneventful par on 18 put a bow on it. Corpuz seemed so unaffected by what she’d just accomplished after she tapped in the winning putt, she didn’t even celebrate. She tucked the ball in her pocket and turned to hug playing partner Nasa Hataoka, as if to comfort her for firing a disappointing 76.

Corpuz might seem, at first glance, like an unassuming U.S. Women’s Open winner. This is her first victory on the LPGA Tour, and just a few years ago, she wasn’t even sure she wanted to turn professional. But when you consider what the U.S. Women’s Open does to the game’s top female players, twisting them into mental pretzels because they want to hoist the trophy so badly, it makes sense that someone as reserved and unpretentious as Corpuz would handle the added pressure of playing the tournament at Pebble.

All week, the game’s biggest names wilted as they struggled to deal with the heightened expectations of a historic venue. World No. 1 Jin-young Ko couldn’t find the clubface and missed the cut. Nelly Korda looked lost with driver, finishing dead last in strokes gained off the tee (-3.26) for players who made the cut. Lydia Ko blew any chance of winning on Thursday with a disastrous quadruple bogey. Even Rose Zhang, the betting favorite coming into the tournament, couldn’t overcome a cold putter, finishing 58th in strokes gained on the green (-1.08). That Zhang finished tied for 9th with what looked like her B-game should probably serve as a warning to the rest of this generation. She’s coming.

“I wish a couple putts would have dropped, but other than that, very proud of how I stood my ground,” Zhang said.

Corpuz, who possesses one of the game’s least complicated swings, seemed unaffected by it all, which tracks with what her friends say about her attitude toward life on the LPGA Tour.

“She lives in reality,” said Addie Baggarly, one of Corpuz’s friends. “She’ll be the first to tell you it’s not all glitz and glam.”

Corpuz never felt like a prodigy growing up, someone destined for greatness, in part because she grew up in the shadow of Michelle Wie, who also attended Punahou School, a private academy in Hawai’i. Wie was viewed as a transcendent talent, someone who was going to change the women’s game forever, and it felt absurd to think of herself in a similar vein, even when she broke Wie’s record and became the youngest woman to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links at 10 years, 3 months and 9 days.

“I never really thought I'd get this far,” Corpuz said. “Just watching Michelle, she's been such a huge role model to me, and it was really awesome to, yeah, break her record for the Public Links. But I've never really compared myself to her. I've always wanted to make my own name. She's just served as a really big inspiration.”

If there was one moment Sunday when everything threatened to come undone for Corpuz, it happened early on the back nine when she and Hataoka fell a full hole behind Bailey Tardy and Hyo-joo Kim, and were told they were being put on the clock.

“We got put on the clock on 11, and I had to go to the bathroom,” said Jay Monahan, Corpuz’s caddie. “I was like ‘This is the worst possible time, but I have to go so I’m going to do that.’ I was sprinting up the hill. We got to 13, and she was between 5 and 6 iron. The wind completely laid down after she’d gone with 5, so she backed off. The rules official came up and told us we had a bad time. He told us if we had another bad time, it was a stroke penalty. I should know that, but I didn’t know it, because typically it’s just a fine for slow play (on the LPGA Tour). I said ‘Wait, we get stroked if we get another one?’ and I think she heard me say that. I think that was a little bit stressful.”

Rushing to catch up, Corpuz hit a mediocre iron shot to the front of the 13th green, leaving her 58 feet from the hole. Monahan was getting anxious. But then Corpuz coaxed her lag putt to 2 feet.

“After she two-putted that one, which was very difficult, I felt pretty good,” Monahan said. “I was eerily calm the rest of the round.”

Corpuz said when she woke up Sunday morning, she tried to tell herself that it wouldn’t destroy her if she didn’t win. It had already been a great week at a beautiful venue, and nothing was going to change that. But she couldn’t calm down. She called her mental coach, Bill Nelson, who reminded her to slow down and enjoy the moment.

“My mind was racing,” Corpuz said. “This was something I dreamed of, but at the same time never really expected to happen.”

When Corpuz walked into her post-round press conference, there was a part of her that still wasn’t convinced it was real. When a reporter informed her that former President Barack Obama, a Punahou alum, had tweeted his congratulations and said he looked forward to a round together at Kapolei, she seemed like she was in a bit of a daze.

“I mean, he's done a lot in his career,” Corpuz said. “Yeah, that's really special.”

He’s done a lot in his career feels like a hilariously understated way to describe a former U.S. Senator and President, but understated might as well be Allisen Corpuz’s brand.

Here is an even better description: United States Women’s Open champion.

Kevin Van Valkenburg is the Editorial Director of No Laying Up.

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