Now Has Place On A USGA Trophy
Cal Teen Not Denied In Third Match-Play Final
Pa. – As Jane Park left the post-championship ceremony at the 2003
U.S. Women's Amateur, winner Virada Nirapathpongporn whispered a
couple of encouraging words into the young 16-year-old's ear.
told me, ‘next year is your time,’ ” Park
one of those worn-out sports clichés. Wait until next year.
Cubs fans have been saying that since 1908. The Boston Red Sox faithful
have been waiting since 1919. The Buffalo Bills made it to four
consecutive Super Bowls and never took home the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
|Jane Park got the proverbial monkey off
her back on Sunday by winning the Women's Amateur. She had lost
two previous USGA amateur match-play championship finals, including
the 2003 Women's Am at Philadelphia C.C. (Steve Gibbons/USGA)
didn't want that label to
follow her around. Eighty-two years ago, Margaret
lost to the legendary Glenna
It was the third time she had reached the championship match and
her third defeat.
Sunday at The Kahkwa Club, Park, 17, of Rancho
found herself competing for yet another USGA title. It was the third
time in her last four USGA competitions that the southern Californian
had won five matches to reach the ultimate round, but she had only
two silver medals to show for that effort.
There was the 2-and-1 loss to Nirapathpongporn and the 20-hole defeat
to Julieta Granada at the 2004 U.S. Girls' Junior last month in
she was due for a breakthrough. Then again, Paula Creamer, another
highly talented teen from California had advanced to four consecutive
semifinals at USGA match-play amateur events and failed to get beyond
that point, the latest coming in a 6-and-4 defeat to Park's championship-final
opponent, feisty Amanda McCurdy of El Dorado, Ark.
a glorious Sunday for golf – sunny skies and temperatures in the
mid-70s – Park
finally ended the drought. A gritty 2-up victory gave the 2004 USA
Curtis Cupper ownership of the prestigious Robert F. Cox Cup, signifying
that she was a national champion. When Jeanne
chairman of the USGA Women's Committee, put the gold medal around
her neck at the prize ceremony near the 18th green, the moment had
like Phil Mickelson,”
said Park of the PGA
Tour pro who finally won a major title this year at the Masters
after many near-misses. “I got the monkey off my back. Coming in
second twice … that's pretty awesome. But coming in first is a whole
new thing. I can't even put into words how happy I am.”
finished the 36-hole marathon
final the equivalent of three under par (141), the same score as
her 20-year-old opponent. The difference was on the greens. When
needed to hole a putt, she did. She birdied three of the first five
holes of the afternoon 18. Even though McCurdy eventually got the
match back to 1 up, she could not fully overcome the deficit.
ran into a freight train today on the front nine [of the afternoon
18],” McCurdy said of Park's three birdies in a five-hole stretch
that gave her a 3-up lead after the two were all square following
the morning 18. “She just played great.”
though she has yet to graduate from high school and McCurdy will
be a junior at the University
this fall, Park
was actually the more-experienced
player. Her USGA match-play record prior to Sunday's final was an
astonishing 24-6. Tiger Woods had the best winning percentage with
a 42-3 mark in nine USGA match-play competitions (he failed to qualify
for match play at the 1991 U.S. Amateur).
was playing in her first Women's Amateur and had lost in the second
round of match play at the 2003 Women's Amateur Public Links. But
didn't take anything for granted, especially after getting a glimpse
of McCurdy's game for the first time.
you guys can see, she can hit the green from behind a tree,” said
“It was, oh my gosh, she hit every green today (actually 28 of 36).
It was amazing to see her hit every green. It's because she has
this low, boring shot. Even if she's in the rough she rolls it up
onto the green. She didn't crack under pressure.”
did Park, despite losing the 33rd and 35th holes with bogeys. With
her 31-year-old cousin, Jung
keeping her calm, Jane Park
coolly hit her approach to
the 36th green some 12 feet above the hole to secure the victory.
has been an instrumental part
of Park's USGA run. He has been on the bag for all but one of her
USGA competitions, missing only this year's Women's Open at The
Orchards Golf Club when Jane
elected to use a member. She
missed the cut.
not so much about reading greens or knowing the course,” said Jung,
who likely will be on the bag when Park
competes in the 2005 Women's
Open at Cherry Hills Country Club, for which she is exempt provided
she remains an amateur. “You just have to keep her calm.
finally got one. I thought we should have got one last year or at
the [Girls'] Junior. I told her as long as we keep it close, down
then end we are going to prevail. And that's what happened.”
toughest part of Park's week might be Sunday night, faced with a
10-hour car trip back to Chicago
where she was to catch a 6:30
a.m. flight to Los
Angeles. On Monday night, she
was scheduled to be at Dodger Stadium for a ceremony honoring Korean-American
is the whirlwind tour of an elite amateur golfer. Park likely will
learn sometime early this week that she'll be named to the USA Women's
World Amateur squad that will compete in Puerto
Rico October 20-23.
going to have to go back home and see my schedule and see if I have
anything [going on] and okay it with my school first,” said Park,
who already has competed in one international event, the Curtis
Cup Match in June at Formby Golf Club in Merseyside, England.
went into the Kahkwa clubhouse for a toast to the champion, the
members filled her glass with ginger ale. At 17, Park
is still a minor and can't
legally consume alcohol (normally the champ gets some champagne).
When she guzzled the beverage, her father Frank
did a double take thinking
it was the ‘real' bubbly.
probably wouldn't have minded had she snuck a sip of Dom Perignon,
but one thing Park
definitely gets to enjoy is
the lovely trophy. She hasn't decided on a permanent home – it could
be in Chicago
with relatives or in southern California.
One thing is for sure, her name will go right above 1954 Women's
Amateur champion Barbara Romack,
who was here this week assisting in the media room.
can't believe I'm a USGA champion,” said Park.
“And being up there with those names, Bobby
Tiger Woods, Carol Semple
It's awesome. I love it.”
is a USGA staff writer.
E-mail him with comments or questions at email@example.com.