St. Louis, Mo. – Jennifer Song, 19, of Ann Arbor, Mich., and Jennifer Johnson, 17, of La Quinta, Calif., were both victors in Saturday’s semifinals at the 109th U.S. Women’s Amateur at Old Warson Country Club to advance to the championship’s 36-hole final.
Song never trailed in her semifinal match against Tiffany Lua, 18, of Rowland Heights, Calif., winning the second and third holes with pars to build an early lead on a hot and breezy day on Old Warson’s par-71, 6,468-yard layout. Song eventually built her lead to 4 up after 12 holes.
Lua, who will be a freshman at UCLA, took advantage of bogeys by Song on the 13th and 14th holes but Song, a sophomore-to-be at the University of Southern California, won No. 15 with a par and closed out Lua a hole later, 3 and 2.
“Today was really tough,” said Song. “Tiffany was playing very solidly. Her shots were very straight to me and it seemed like she would never make any mistakes. So I had to go through all of this emotional, mental and physical stress, like I had to be patient and tell myself that, you know, 'Jennifer, keep doing what you're doing and you'll be fine.' ”
Song, the 2009 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links champion, is trying to become the second female in history to win two USGA championships in the same year. Pearl Sinn won the Women’s Amateur and Women’s Amateur Public Links in 1988. There have also been five male golfers to win two USGA titles in the same year.
“I am so excited,” said Song who also earned low-amateur honors at the U.S. Women’s Open last month. “Being given this chance to play in the finals is just a great honor for me.”
Johnson also got off to a quick start in her semifinal match against 2008 U.S. Girls’ Junior champion Alexis Thompson, 14, of Coral Springs, Fla. Johnson won the first and third holes with pars to also build a 2-up lead.
“I just try when I get the opportunity to get up a [hole], I try and take advantage of it, because sometimes the matches are really close, so it's just hard to get a huge lead,” said Johnson, who has yet to trail through five matches at the 2009 championship, a span of 76 holes.
Thompson came back to the square the match after bogeys by Johnson on the fifth and sixth holes, but Johnson again built her lead and held a 3-up advantage after 15 holes. On the par-5 16th, Thompson made a 35-footer for birdie to cut the deficit to 2 down, and she got another back on the par-3 17th when she made a 25-foot birdie putt.
But Thompson’s putter would betray her on No. 18. After Johnson missed her 12-footer par putt, Thompson would have a chance from 10 feet to win the hole and extend the match. Thompson’s try went right and Johnson escaped with a 1-up victory.
“I ended up not making the one that I needed to make,” said Thompson, who was trying to become the youngest Women’s Amateur winner in history and the seventh to claim both the Girls’ Junior and Women’s Amateur titles. “
Johnson, an incoming freshman at Arizona State University, has experience playing in a 36-hole final. She won the 2008 California State Women’s Amateur, 5 and 3. She knows she’ll have to be patient against Song.
“It’s just really exciting,” said Johnson of advancing to the final. “I just can’t believe it. You know, tomorrow is going to be a long day and there’s a lot of golf, so I’ve just got to be patient and not think about the outcome so much, because that can get in the way.”
The U.S. Women’s Amateur is one of 13 championships conducted annually by the United States Golf Association each year, 10 of which are strictly for amateurs.
Story written by Beth Murrison, manager of communications for the USGA. E-mail her with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
St. Louis – Results from the semifinal round of match play Saturday at the 2009 U.S. Women’s Amateur being conducted at the 6,468-yard, par-71 Old Warson Country Club:
Jennifer Johnson, La Quinta, Calif. (147) def. Alexis Thompson, Coral Springs, Fla. (150), 1 up
Jennifer Song, Ann Arbor, Mich. (146) def. Tiffany Lua, Rowland Heights, Calif. (142), 3 and 2
St. Louis – Pairing and starting times for the 36-hole championship final Sunday at the 2009 U.S. Women’s Amateur being conducted at the 6,468-yard, par-71 Old Warson Country Club (Times CDT):
7:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
Jennifer Johnson, La Quinta, Calif. (147) vs. Jennifer Song, Ann Arbor, Mich. (146)