EAGLE,ID (July 21, 2005) -– Three foreign-born players advanced to the semifinal round of the 57th U.S. Girls Junior Thursday, which is being conducted at the 6,348-yard, par-71 BanBury Golf Club.
Korean-born players In-Bee Park, 17, of Las Vegas and 17-year-old In-Kyung Kim of Hilton Head, S.C., join Colombia’s Juliana Murcia Ortiz, 17, and Joanne Lee, 16, of San Carlos, Calif., in the penultimate step to the final.
Park, the 2002 Girls’ Junior champion, will face Lee after holding off 17-year-old Sydnee Michaels of Temecula, Calif., 2 up. On No. 18, Park closed out Michaels with a phenomenal 210-yard approach that cleared the hazard in front of the green before two-putting for par from 20 feet. Michaels, down one, opted to go for the fat part of the green, leaving herself with a 55-foot putt.
“I really didn’t have a choice,” said Park of the approach. “I knew I had to try and make birdie.”
The match went back and forth before Park parred the 167-yard par-3 16th while Michaels carded a double bogey.
After winning in 2002, Park fell short defending the next year in the championship final. She lost in the second round last year to Hsiao-Ching Lu in 22 holes.
“I slipped two years so now is the time to do it,” said Park.
Ortiz, playing in her first Girls’ Junior, knocked out 17-year-old Morgan Pressel in the round of 16 with a miraculous chip-in from 40 feet on the 19th hole. Against the 17-year-old Lu of Chinese Taipei, Ortiz continued her magical run by again holing out with a chip, this one from 25 feet on No. 17 to win the match, 2 and 1.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Ortiz. “I didn’t imagine I do it twice. I just go for it.”
She began playing golf seven years ago when her family picked up the game together.
“I didn’t know this tournament,” said Ortiz, who became aware of it last year when a friend played in it. “I just wanted to make the cut.”
That was the mindset of Lee as she battled a stomach virus during the first two days of stroke play qualifying. She carded a 6-over 148 to tie for 44th. She knocked off Amber Lundskog, 17, of San Diego, 3 and 2, and never trailed in the match. She won four holes with birdies.
Appearing in her fourth Girls’ Junior, Lee had never made the cut. Now she’s trying to soak up the experience.
”I don’t think anybody here has heard of me, so I don’t have a lot of pressure on me,” she said.
In the other quarterfinal match, Kim relied on solid putting to dispatch 17-year-old Stephanie Connelly of Pasadena, Calif., 3 and 2. Kim had back-to-back birdie putts on holes nine and 10 that were 7 and 35 feet. Connelly cut the deficit to 2 down on No. 15, but all hope was lost when she sent her tee shot into the hazard on the par-3 16th.
Fourth months ago the high school senior-to-be Kim came to the United States for the first time, leaving her parents behind in Korea. Admittedly homesick, she said she’s trying to stay in the moment.
“I’m having fun,” she said. “I want to win.”