Jane Park, Nirapathpongporn to Meet in 2003 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship Final

 

Gladwyne, Pa. – Jane Park, 16, of Oak Valley, Calif., and Virada Nirapathpongporn, 21, of Thailand, won narrow victories in their semifinal matches to advance to the final of the 2003 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship at the 6,386-yard par-71 course at Philadelphia Country Club

Virada Nirapathpongporn fires her approach shot to the par-5 third hole in Saturday's semifinal win over In-Bee Park. (John Mummert/USGA)

Park edged 17-year-old Paula Creamer, of Pleasanton, Calif., 2 and 1. Nirapathpongporn defeated Korean-born In-Bee Park, 15, of Eustis, Fla., 3 and 1.

Creamer was 1 up through the fourth hole until she three-putted the fifth for a bogey that squared the match. Park then recorded six birdies, three of them in a row on the sixth (Creamer also birdied the sixth), seventh and eighth holes, to end Creamer’s dream of a national championship final. Creamer had five birdies of her own but trailed in the match after the seventh hole.

"She got an early start this morning, but there was a lot of golf to be played,” said Park . “So I just kept going, didn’t think negatively, made a couple of birdies and now I’m here.”

Creamer, also a semifinalist at the Girls' Junior two weeks ago, was already pointing to 2004 after her loss. “Next year, I know I can do it,” she said. “I know I can play with these girls. I’m glad to be in the semis and I have a medal around my neck. One hundred and fifty-two other players don’t have one and I think that’s a big thing.”

Nirapathpongporn and her opponent, In-Bee Park, have both won national titles. Nirapathpongporn won the 2002 NCAA individual title while Park captured the 2002 U.S. Girls’ Junior (she was runner-up this year).

Nirapathpongporn got off to a slow start in the match and trailed by two holes after four. “I didn’t really feel like I was ready to go, even though I kept telling myself, ‘Go, let’s go, let’s go,’ ” she said. “For some reason, I just wasn’t quite ready, but I’m a fighter and I know what I wanted to do.”

She began collecting birdies in bunches. She birdied the par-3 fifth on a 20-foot putt, the par-5 sixth on a putt of less than 2 feet, and the par-3 seventh to take the lead for good. Another birdie at the 12th gave her a 3-up lead she never relinquished.

"It was a tough match,” said In-Bee Park . “In my other matches I was always up, but not today. She just doesn’t make mistakes.”

While Jane Park is playing in her first Women’s Amateur Championship, Nirapathpongporn is playing in her third. She narrowly missed winning the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links in June, losing to Michelle Wie, 1 up, in 36 holes. Throughout the week, she has said that her goal is to win.

Nirapathpongporn, soon to be a senior at Duke University, must first get by her final-match opponent, an incoming high school junior.

"I really don’t know her so I don’t know what kind of experience she has had, but obviously to get this far she has to be pretty tough,” said Nirapathpongporn.

Park was likewise unaware of Nirapathpongporn’s record. “Did she win any college tournaments?” Park asked. When told that her opponent won the NCAA, she said, “Oh, my gosh. She has more experience than I do. I guess that can be an advantage to her. But if I just stick to my game, don’t think about that and just play like I have been playing this week, I think I will be fine.”

Park’s putting has been superb. Nirapathpongporn is hitting pinpoint iron shots. Park has the edge in distance from the tee. Nirapathpongporn has a better chipping game. Both have stylish golf swings. Now, having already played seven rounds of golf to get to the final, 36 holes more will decide the championship.

 The U.S. Women’s Amateur is one of 13 national championships conducted by the United States Golf Association, of which ten are strictly for amateurs.

Gladwyne, Pa. – Results of the semifinal round of match play in the 2003 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship at the par-71, 6,386-yard course at Philadelphia Country Club.

Semifinal

  9:00 am    Virada Nirapathpongporn, Thailand (143) def. In-Bee Park, Eustis, Fla. (142), 3 and 1

  9:15 am    Jane Park, Oak Valley, Calif. (143) def. Paula Creamer, Pleasanton, Calif. (143), 2 and 1

Gladwyne, Pa. – Pairings for the 36-hole final round of match play in the 2003 U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship at the par-71, 6,386-yard course at Philadelphia Country Club.

Final

   7:30 am / 12:30 pm    Virada Nirapathpongporn, Thailand (143) vs. Jane Park, Oak Valley, Calif. (143)

 

 

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