Jane Park, 17, of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., won the U.S. Women's Amateur Championship with a 2-up victory over Amanda McCurdy, 20, of El Dorado, Ark., in the 36-hole final at the 6,365-yard, par-72 course at The Kahkwa Club in Erie, Pa.
It was Park's first victory in her third USGA championship final. In addition to this championship, she also reached the final of the 2003 Women's Amateur and the 2004 U.S. Girls' Junior. On a brilliant summer day the Park-McCurdy contest lured more than 4,000 spectators to a match that went the distance.
"Coming in second twice, that's pretty awesome, I think," said Park. "Coming in first is a whole new thing ... and to be able to finally break through. I can't even put into words how happy I am. I'm just not an emotional girl; it's all inside of me."
McCurdy was three holes down with four holes to play and made a valiant attempt to square the match. She captured two of the next three holes and was one hole down going into the 36th green. Then, with Park facing a birdie putt of 12 feet, McCurdy took three putts from 45 feet, made bogey, and saw her dream come to an end.
"Of course, I wish I could have won," said McCurdy. "I'm a competitor and I hate to come this far and not come out on top, but second place isn't always that bad. She's a` great champion."
Earlier in the match, Park took a 2-up lead at the 15th hole but McCurdy won the 16th and the 18th to enter the lunch break all square.
In the afternoon's play, Park needed only seven putts (concessions included) on four of the first five holes, making three birdies and taking a 3-up lead that she would maintain through the 28th hole. From holes 19 through 27, Park missed just one fairway and demonstrated great distance control on her approach shots. McCurdy missed foul~ fairways in that stretch and was unable to hit her approach shots close to the hole.
But McCurdy won the 164-yard, par-3 29th hole with a birdie after she hit her 6-iron to within three feet of the hole and Park made a par.
Park went 3 up on the very next hole. With McCurdy's third shot to the par-5 hole nestling some 10 feet from the hole, Park chipped in from the high fringe 30 feet from the hole for a winning birdie four and raised her first.
McCurdy cut the margin to two holes with a conceded birdie on the par-3 33rd hole when Park missed the green and bogeyed. At the 376-yard 35th hole, McCurdy hit a wonderful iron shot from the rough to just a few feet from the hole after Park's approach from the fairway flew the green.
McCurdy had drawn to within one hole with one to play.
Both players hit the fairway with their tee shots on the par-4 36th hole. "My cousin [Jung Park, her caddie] kept saying, `Four, four, four, four,' " said Park. "He just kept telling me to make par, make par, make par."