Creamer, Nirapathpongporn, Park and Park in 2003 U.S. Women’s Amateur Semifinals

Gladwyne, Pa. – Paula Creamer, of Pleasanton, Calif., Virada Nirapathpongporn, of Thailand, In-Bee Park, of Eustis, Fla., and Jane Park, of Oak Valley, Calif., survived two matches Friday and advanced to the semifinals of the 2003 U.S. Women’s Amateur at the 6,368-yard, par-71 course at Philadelphia Country Club.

Virada Nirapathpongporn eliminated medalist and former junior foe Aree Song in the quarterfinals, 1 up, on Friday. (John Mummert/USGA)

Creamer defeated Erica Blasberg, of Corona, Calif., 6 and 5. Park beat defending champion Becky Lucidi, of Poway, Calif., 2 up. Park stopped Ashley Knoll, of The Woodlands, Texas, 3 and 1, and Nirapathpongporn ended the chances of Aree Song, of Korea, 1 up.

The match between two ex-patriots, Nirapathpongporn, 21, and Song, 17, was a classic encounter. Both are experienced battlers with national credentials. Nirapathpongporn won the 2002 NCAA Women's Championship. Song was fifth in the 2003 U.S. Women’s Open and U.S. Girls’ Junior Champion 1999.

The pair made 10 birdies in their match and, with the usual match-play concessions, each shot 69 before Nirapathpongporn holed a three-foot putt at the 18 th to win, 1 up.

"Aree is like a sister, friend,” said Nirapathpongporn. “We have been playing golf together since we were kids in Thailand, I was probably 14 and Aree and her sister Naree were 10. It was the three of us at the top. It’s always been that way. We all decided in 1997, okay, it’s time to go over to The States. So their family moved and I came over by myself. Their family kind of took care of me. I would go over to their house and eat Thai food once every two weeks or so.”

Nirapathpongporn birdied the first three holes on putts of one foot, six feet and 15 feet to take a 2-up lead over Song. They halved the sixth hole with birdies. Song’s curling 30-foot birdie putt on the 9 th green squared the match. She moved into a 1-up lead with another birdie on the 10th hole. A par on the 13th pulled Nirapathpongporn back to even. She went 1 up with a birdie at the 14 th and 2 up with another birdie at the 16th.

Song narrowed the gap to 1 up with a par at the 17 th hole. When both players made nervous bogeys at the 18 th, Nirapathpongporn was the winner.

Jane Park, 16, played an up-and-down match before defeating defending champion Becky Lucidi, 22, 2 up.

 “Oh my gosh, I thought I was going to die,” said Park. “Defending champions aren’t very easy to beat. I made like a 70-footer on the first hole to make a birdie and she made like a 15-footer for birdie. So I thought, wow, this match is going to be tough.”

While Lucidi twice managed to square the match, a bogey and a double-bogey on the last two holes sealed her fate. Park has never trailed in any of her four matches.

"It’s like the biggest match play tournament in the world for amateurs,” said Park. “How wonderful is that?”

Paula Creamer shows off her form during her 6-and-5 quarterfinal win over Erica Blasberg on Friday. This is her second appearance in the Women's Amateur. (John Mummert/USGA)

Paula Creamer, 17, easily sailed past Erica Blasberg, 6 and 5, making five birdies in the 13 holes of her match. One of the top juniors in the United States, she reached the semifinals of the 2003 U.S. Girls’ Junior, where she lost to In-Bee Park.

 “It’s the Women’s Amateur and I am in the semis,” said Creamer. "So far, that’s pretty good. Obviously I want to win the tournament but we’re just having fun out there.”

After playing four matches in two days, Creamer said the course was physically demanding but a true test. “It’s very tiresome,” she said. “It’s very hilly. It’s hot and humid and muggy and gross. You’ve got to drink lots of water. It’s a great golf course. It’s definitely a good test of golf.”

In-Bee Park, 15, is the youngest of the four semifinalists. She defeated Knoll, 3 and 1, and never trailed in the match after taking a 3-up lead at the fourth hole.

Should Park win, she would be the youngest champion ever, a goal she says she’s trying not to think about. “She was defending champion in the Girls’ Junior and wanted to repeat, like (Hollis Stacy),” said her instructor, Charlie Yoo, “and there was too much pressure. Just play, have fun.”

Gladwyne, Pa. – Results of the third round and quarterfinal round of match play in the 2003 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship at the 6,368-yard, par-71 course at Philadelphia Country Club.

   Third Round

    UPPER HALF

  8:00 am    Aree Song, Korea (138) def. Aimee Cho, Orlando, Fla. (152), 4 and 3

   8:10 am    Virada Nirapathpongporn, Thailand (143) def. Sarah Huarte, Shingle Springs,    Calif. (144), 5 and 4

   8:20 am    In-Bee Park, Eustis, Fla. (142) def. Charlotte Mayorkas, Chula Vista, Calif. (148), 2 and 1

  8:30 am    Ashley Knoll, The Woodlands, Texas (148) def. Lisa Meldrum, Canada (143), 4 and 2

LOWER HALF

  8:40 am    Becky Lucidi, Poway, Calif. (147) def. Kwan-Chih Lu, Chinese Taipei

(150), 4 and 3

  8:50 am    Jane Park, Oak Valley, Calif. (143) def. Diana Ramage, Fayetteville, Ga. (152), 6 and 4

  9:00 am    Erica Blasberg, Corona, Calif. (142) def. Kailin Downs, Bend, Ore. (147), 4 and 3

  9: 10 am    Paula Creamer, Pleasanton, Calif. (143) def. Annie Thurman, Highland, Utah (144), 1 up

 

Quarterfinals

UPPER HALF

  1: 10 pm    Virada Nirapathpongporn, Thailand (143) def. Aree Song, Korea (138), 1 up

   1:20 pm    In-Bee Park, Eustis, Fla. (142) def. Ashley Knoll, The Woodlands, Texas (148), 3 and 1

LOWER HALF

  1:30 pm   Jane Park, Oak Valley, Calif. (143) def. Becky Lucidi, Poway, Calif. (147), 2 up

   1:40 pm    Paula Creamer, Pleasanton, Calif. (143) def. Erica Blasberg, Corona, Calif. (142), 6 and 5

 

   Gladwyne, Pa. – Pairings for the semifinal round of match play in the 2003 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship at the par-71, 6,368-yard course at Philadelphia Country Club.

UPPER HALF

  9:00 am    Virada Nirapathpongporn, Thailand (143) vs. In-Bee Park, Eustis, Fla. (142)

LOWER HALF

  9:15 am    Jane Park, Oak Valley, Calif. (143) vs. Paula Creamer, Pleasanton, Calif. (143)

  

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