By Rory Carroll
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - New Jersey high school student Megha Ganne, who won the hearts of golf fans everywhere with her breakout performance at this week's U.S. Women's Open, said she was thrilled to show she could hold her own alongside the game's best.
The amiable and energetic 17-year-old amateur stunned the field when she came out of nowhere to be co-leader after the first round, quickly becoming the talk of the tournament.
She proved her hot start was no fluke with solid second and third rounds but played herself out of contention early on Sunday with two bogeys and two doubles on the front nine under challenging conditions.
"I'm going to remember this for the rest of my life," Ganne told reporters.
"It's everything I've wanted since I was little, so it's just the best feeling."
Ganne received rock star treatment from the fans at San Francisco's Olympic Club, where she tied for 14th at the 76th edition of the major tournament, finishing as the low amateur.
"It was just electric. I can't thank all these fans enough," said Ganne, who received shout-outs on social media from New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker and others over the past four days.
"They've made my week so much better than it could have been," she said.
"I felt like there was so much love and so much support, and all of them are really excited to be out here, which is so great to see because I feel like in a small way I'm making an impact on the game, which is really cool."
Ganne said she was happy for fellow teenager, friend and tournament champion Yuka Saso and was encouraged that she was able to keep pace with the game's best on the brutally difficult course.
"They're the best players in the world, so it was cool to see that I was alongside them," she said.
"It was an honor."
(This story corrects to Saso, not Sosa, in 10th paragraph)
(Reporting by Rory Carroll; editing by Richard Pullin)