Virada Nirapathpongporn, 21 of Thailand, defeated Jane Park, 16, of Oak Valley, Calif, 2 and 1, in the 36-hole final to win the 2003 U.S. Women's AMateur Championship at the 6,386-yard, par-71 course at Philadelphia Country Club in Gladwyne, Pa.
Nirapathpongporn became the 11th foreign-born winner of this national championship, which is the oldest women's championship conducted by the United States Golf Association.
"I have been hungry and I am just so glad I really held it together," said Nirapathpongporn. "I think I was really, really determined at the beginning of the week."
Nirapathpongporn had two goals this year, she said. Winning the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links was one. She lost, 1 up, in that 36-hole final to Michelle Wie, 13, of Honolulu, Hawaii. Her second goal was winning the Women's Amateur, a title that is now hers.
With the usual match-play concessions, Nirapathpongporn was even par for the 35 holes of the match, while Park was three over par.
Park won three straight holes on the strength of two birdies and a par on the front nine, but Nirapathpongporn evened the match at the 14th on a conceded birdie, then won the 15th with a par out of the bunker, and the 16th with a bogey after Park chipped over the green and double-bogeyed.
Nirapathpongporn birdied the 17th from five feet to go 3 up in the match. Park then captured the 18th with a par to fall just two holes down after the morning round.
Park, the longer hitter, appeared ready to win it all back after winning the 21st, 22nd and 23rd with two birdies and a par to square the match. On the 24th hole, a seemingly bad break stopped Park's momentum.
With the hole cut just ten paces from the back of the green on this par-5 hole, Park hit a sand wedge from 85 yards. The hit hole high, pitched forward one foot, and then began to trickle back until it dribbled off the front of the green, 22 paces from the hole.
Nirapathpongporn, from 73 yards, took, advantage of the opening and spanked a sand wedge to within five feet of the hole. Park chipped past the hole, then missed her 12-foot putt for a par, made a bogey and conceded Nirapathpongporn's birdie putt.
Nirapathpongporn never lost the lead again. Both players put on a great short game display. They made superb bunker shots to halve the 27th hole with pars, then saved pars from in back of the 28th green where each had a difficult lie in grass trampled by the large gallery.
Nirapathpongporn went 2 up with a par when Park three-putted and bogeyed the 32nd hole. The lead held and when both parred the 35th hole, Nirapathpongporn had captured her second national championship.