EAGLE, ID (July 22, 2005) -- The 57th U.S. Girls’ Junior final will feature two Korean-born players as 17-year-old In-Bee Park, 17, of Las Vegas and In-Kyung Kim, 17, of Hilton Head, S.C., advanced Friday at the 6,348-yard, par-71 BanBury Golf Club.
Park, the 2002 Girls’ Junior champion, had little trouble in beating 16-year-old Joanne Lee of San Carlos, Calif., 6 and 4. Meanwhile, Kim posted a 2-and-1 victory over Colombia’s Juliana Murcia Ortiz, 17.
For Park, this final appearance is a shot at redemption. While attempting to defend her title in 2003, Park squandered a 5-up lead after eight holes to lose to Sukjin-Lee Wuesthoff. And in last year’s championship, Park lost in the second round to Hsiao-Ching Lu in 22 holes.
“This is totally where I expected to be,” said Park. “I’m happy with where I stand.
“I have experience of going 5 up and losing. Now I think 5 up is nothing.”
Park’s strategy was to apply pressure early, and she did by going 2 up after the first three holes. She increased her lead to 3 up by the turn. There was nothing extraordinary about her game, carding two birdies, other than the fact that she played consistently. Lee, who entered match play as a high seed, oftentimes short-sided herself on holes that had flags tucked in corners. Her most glaring miss occurred on No. 10 when she yanked a 4-footer that would have halved the hole.
On the 544-yard, par-5 12th, Lee left herself 22 feet short of the hole on her approach shot. Park stuck her approach to 7 feet before knocking it in for birdie and going 5 up.
“In order to beat her, you have to birdie the hole she doesn’t,” said Lee, adding that she wasn’t overly disappointed because “no one expected her to win.”
Expecting to win is Kim, who took a lead she’d never relinquish on the 11th hole. A hole later Ortiz put her drive into a hazard, which for all intents and purposes, was the beginning of the end. She gained a hole on No. 13 when she used a 6-iron from 150 yards out to stick her approach shot inches away from the hole, leading to a birdie. But on the par-3 14th, Ortiz missed a 6-foot putt for par after being on the back collar. Ortiz said her putting was off on a number of holes.
“That was one of the putts,” said Ortiz.
Kim, dormie 2, closed her out on No. 17 by chipping from the back fringe to within 2 feet of the hole. When Ortiz couldn’t convert a 12-footer, she gave Kim a congratulatory hug.
“I didn’t play the best. I left them where I shouldn’t,” said Ortiz. “She’s really consistent. She plays really good. I hope she can win the tournament.”
Said Kim through broken English: “I’m really happy. This course I’m more comfortable. I know to play this course … Yes, I’m tired. Today is only 18, right?”
Now Kim, playing in her first Girls’ Junior and former member of the Korean National Team, faces the perceived juggernaut in Park. The two know of one another from their time growing up in Korea, although Park said she hasn’t seen Kim’s game in nearly five years since moving to the U.S. But she’ll treat her like any other opponent, trying to squeeze them for the get-go.
“If I get a lead on the first three, four holes, it’s better,” said Park. “When I get up, I don’t get down – except for 2003.”
Eagle, Idaho – Results from the semifinal round of match play Friday at the 2005 U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship at the 6,348-yard, par-71 BanBury Golf Club:
Round of 4
In-Kyung Kim, Korea (138) def. Juliana Murcia Ortiz, Colombia (139), 2 and 1
In-Bee Park, Las Vegas, Nev. (142) def. Joanne Lee, San Carlos, Calif. (148), 6 and 4
Eagle, Idaho – Pairing for Saturday’s championship final at the 2005 U.S. Girls’ Junior at the 6,348-yard, par-71 BanBury Golf Club:
9 a.m. In-Kyung Kim, Korea (138) vs. In-Bee Park, Las Vegas, Nev. (142)