Notebook: Joh Sizzles Under Heat, Humidity Of Crooked Stick
By David Shefter, USGA
Carmel, Ind. – Temperatures at Crooked Stick Golf Club were hovering at 91 degrees on Monday for the start of the 2007 U.S. Women’s Amateur. With humidity levels at 60 percent, a dew point at 75 degrees (tropical) and a Heat Index of 96, the competitors, officials and spectators felt like they were at a steam bath instead of a national championship.
Nobody was immune from sweat and a visit to one of the two fans emitting mist near the clubhouse was almost a must.
For some reason, 2006 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links champion Tiffany Joh of San Diego, Calif., chose to wear black. Perhaps she should have worn red because the only numbers on her card were pars and birdies. The 20-year-old carded a 3-under-par 69 in the first round of stroke-play qualifying and was the only competitor of the 78 in the morning wave to not have a bogey on her scorecard. In fact, it was the first time Joh had ever played a competitive round sans a bogey.
“Honestly, I am just relieved that I’m in air conditioning right now,” said Joh, adding that she wore black because “I played early in the morning [and] I thought I would get this outfit out of the way. Plus, I really like this [black] hat and it matched the earrings.”
To keep cool, Joh made sure to drink plenty of liquids during her stroll over the 6,497-yard Pete Dye layout.
“I just drank like 900 Gatorades,” said Joh in her typical humor. “There’s nothing you can do except on the long waits, you just try to look for some shade.”
Joh, a UCLA junior who was a second-team All-America this past season, recently returned from a trip to Bucaramanga, Colombia, where she played in a tournament with UCLA incoming freshman Maria Uribe. Joh won the golf event by a stroke over Uribe, but the true experience came away from the course.
“I have never met a group of golfers that totally know how to live life,” said Joh. “I’m talking about going out and dancing in the middle of a tournament when I’m used to sitting at home in front of the Disney Channel watching old reruns.
“That [trip] just did wonders for me. It definitely did help me to have a different perspective. I’m very bad with the Salsa [dance], but Maria is fantastic. She looks like she is fresh out of ‘Dancing With The Stars’ and I’m not even kidding.”
Lauren Showers was returning from a leisurely practice session at her home club, Kokomo (Ind.) C.C., when the head pro approached her with a yardage book from Crooked Stick. The 21-year-old Kokoma resident at first thought it was a cruel joke.
But he quickly told the Butler University rising junior that the USGA had called. Paola Moreno of Colombia, a 2007 U.S. Women’s Open qualifier, had withdrawn and she was the next alternate on the allotment list. Showers’ emotion went from befuddled to sheer excitement.
Not only would she be making her first-ever appearance in a USGA championship, but she would be competing in the U.S. Women’s Amateur in her home state just 40 minutes from home.
“I was really excited and enthusiastic about it,” said Showers, who is commuting from home this week.
For the first time in Butler women’s golf history, a Bulldog would be competing in America’s oldest women’s golf championship. Athletic Director Barry Collier and his wife came out to watch Showers in her final practice round on Sunday. Her older sister, Linnsey, a fifth-year Butler senior, also briefly watched her first round of stroke-play qualifying on Monday before going back to Kokomo, where she’s working this summer in a pharmacy. Her father, Bud, is scheduled to come on Tuesday.
“It was really nice for everyone to come out and watch,” said Showers after carding a 3-over 75. “It’s a really good support system.”
Surrounded by contestants from the top women’s golf programs in the country, along with many elite juniors, Showers is quite happy to get a chance to see how her game stacks up amongst the premier players.
Once she got past the initial first-tee butterflies, Showers settled down. Outside of a double-bogey 6 at 18, her round was quite respectable.
“It’s definitely intimidating when you come out here and you see like the whole Duke team and you see all the girls from the southern schools,” said Showers. “I know I can play with them. [I’m] the same age and have the same talent. It doesn’t matter where you are from.”
Showers posted the low score of the four Indiana-based competitors in the field. Kathryn Tewell of Greenwood, Ind., the NCAA Division III Player of the Year for 2006-07 from Franklin (Ind.) College, shot a 77, while Kokomo’s Kylie Pulley had an 81. Erin Mueller of Evansville had an afternoon starting time and didn’t finish her round due to two weather suspensions.
69, 69, 69
The threesome of the day had to be Shanshan Feng, Jennifer Ackerson and Catherine O’Donnell. All three carded 3-under 69s and combined for 12 birdies and two eagles.
None of the golfers had ever been part of a group that had three scores that low.
“You maybe have two girls that shoot well but for all three of us to shoot that well is pretty amazing,” said Ackerson, a 23-year-old Southern Methodist University graduate from Allen, Texas.
Added O’Donnell, a 17-year-old rising high school senior from Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.: “It’s easier because you are all playing at the same level, so it goes pretty quickly and you don’t have any holes that are too bad. It was enjoyable out there.”
Feng is an 18-year-old from the Peoples Republic of China who qualified for the 2007 U.S. Women’s Open. She also competed in the Women’s Amateur Public Links and the U.S. Girls’ Junior (she turned 18 on Sunday). She had five birdies, but made a double-bogey 7 at the par-5 ninth hole.
“I was joking with [55-year-old competitor Carolyn Creekmore] that not only are we older than these kids and their parents, we’re older than their grandparents.” – Crooked Stick member and 1997 USGA Senior Women’s Amateur champion Nancy Fitzgerald, 63, on all the young players competing at the Women’s Amateur.
David Shefter is a USGA Staff Writer. E-mail him with questions or comments at email@example.com.