Pueblo, Colo. (June 25, 2006) – Tiffany Joh, 19, of San Diego, Calif.,
played 11-under-par golf over 31 holes, with the usual match-play concessions,
in defeating 14-year-old Kimberly Kim of Hilo, Hawaii, 6 and 5, to win the
2006 U.S. Women’s Amateur
Public Links Championship at the 6,263-yard, par-72 Walking Stick Golf Course.
|Kimberly Kim didn't drop as many putts on Sunday as she did in reaching
the 2006 WAPL final at Walking Stick Golf Course. (Robert Walker/USGA)
Joh’s brilliant play was punctuated with a hole-out from the fairway
for an eagle-2 at the par-4 11 th hole, the 29th hole of the match. She went
6-up at that point and closed out Kim two holes later with a 6-foot birdie
putt to halve the 31st of the scheduled 36-hole final.
Kim, meanwhile, was trying to become the second-youngest champion in WAPL
history behind fellow Hawaiian Michelle Wie, who won this title as a 13-year-old
in 2003. Joh, in fact, ended a three-year skein of under-18 WAPL champions
that started with Wie and continued with 15-year-old Ya-Ni Tseng (2004) and
17-year-old Eun Jung Lee (2005).
“Honestly, I can’t even really believe it yet,” said Joh,
who was a first-team National Golf Coaches Association All-America as a freshman
this past season at UCLA. “I’m just kind of going to like sit here
and let it soak in. I couldn’t tell you [how it feels] because in my
mind, it doesn’t even feel like I’ve won yet.”
Kim, who hadn’t trailed in a match the entire week, went 1-down early
at the second with a double bogey, but quickly got it back with a chip-in eagle
at the par-5 fourth and grabbed a 1-up lead at the ninth by holing a 10-footer
that just wiggled into the hole.
Joh then seized momentum on the second nine, winning holes 10, 14 and 15 to
grab a 2-up lead at the break. Joh holed a 30-footer for birdie at 14 and then
delicately chipped to 2 feet to set up a conceded birdie at the par-5 15th
after Kim got a bad lie in the rough short of the green and failed to reach
“During the break we ate lunch together and we were laughing together,” said
Kim, who is headed to Rhode Island to compete in the U.S. Women’s Open
at Newport Country Club that begins on Thursday. “So I didn’t really
feel any pressure. I just wanted to play my game.”
But it was Joh who came out on fire. After both players missed short birdie
putts at the 19th hole, Joh knocked her approach to 6 feet at No. 20 and converted
for a 3-up lead. At the next hole, her second shot to the par 4 stopped 2 feet
from the hole and when Kim flubbed her chip from the greenside rough, she conceded
the birdie putt and the hole.
At the par-5 22nd, Joh holed a 7-footer for birdie right after Kim missed
her 9-footer and took a 5-up lead. It swelled to 6 up at No. 23, another par
5, when converted a short birdie putt after her 9-footer for eagle just slid
by. Kim again missed a putt, this time lipping out a 5-foot birdie try.
Kim collected her second chip-in of the day at the 24th hole – this
time for birdie – to cut the deficit to 5 up, and then got another shot
back when she drove the 326-yard, par-4 ninth and two-putted for birdie, while
Joh missed her 25-foot birdie putt from the fringe.
“”When I went to 10 (28th of the match), I thought I had a chance
and then I three-putted and that turned everything around,” said Kim. “And
she kept playing really, really well.”
|Tiffany Joh tries to give some body-English to her shot in Sunday's
final. (Robert Walker/USGA)
Leading 5-up after 28 holes, Joh faced a 110-yard shot from the fairway to
a hole that was cut on the front-left portion of the green. Her 52-degree wedge
approach landed just right of the flagstick and then trickled into the hole,
bringing a delayed celebration from Joh.
“When I first saw it disappear, I was like, ‘No way that went
sure … and don’t make a big deal about it,’ ” said
Joh. “Don’t go starting running around the golf course looking
like a fool.”
But up six with just seven holes to play, Joh realized that maybe this was
her day on the course.
“When that went in,” said Joh, “I was like, ‘Okay,
that’s pretty tight.’ She chipped in twice and I hit it once. I
just felt super, super blessed and actually just on the side of No. 12 green,
I kneeled down and I seriously just made a little prayer and was like, ‘Thank
you, Lord, that was seriously a gift from heaven.’ ”
With the Women’s Open just four days away, Kim hardly has time to even
digest this defeat. But it’s been a whirlwind summer already with the
Rolex Girls’ Championship just prior to the WAPL (T-5), the Women’s
Open next week and the U.S. Girls’ Junior and U.S. Women’s Amateur
in the coming weeks, not to mention a couple of AJGA competitions like the
Betsy Rawls National Girls’ Championship and possibly the Canon Cup.
“I think I have like a three-day break the rest of the summer,” said
Kim. “I am a little tired and wish I had a little break. I definitely
have had a good start this summer. I hope that … I can keep going [strong].
“[My caddie/sister] told me everything happens for a reason, so even
if I lost today, it must have been for some reason. She just played excellent
Joh now will add her name to an impressive list of WAPL champions, including
Wie, Colorado native Jill McGill, Candie Kung, Danielle Ammaccapane and Pearl
Sinn. She is the first person from UCLA to win this title since Mary Enright
in 1981. The last UCLA player to win a USGA championship was Jane Park at the
2004 U.S. Women’s Amateur.
“Coming into this tournament, I really didn’t have too much confidence
in my game,” said Joh, who is now exempt for the next two U.S. Women’s
Amateurs and the next 10 WAPLs. “And this definitely gave a little bit
of a boost. When you go from thinking that you might have a chance of missing
the cut to like winning the tournament, you are like, whoa, hold on a second,
“It’s just blows me away on everything that’s happened this
Story written by USGA staff writer David Shefter. E-mail him with questions
or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pueblo, Colo. – Results of the 36-hole final match at the 2006 U.S.
Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship held at the 6,263-yard, par-72
Walking Stick Golf Course.
Championship Match (36 holes)
Tiffany Joh (138), San Diego, Calif., def. Kimberly Kim (149), Hilo, Hawaii,
6 and 5