Jennifer Song, 19, of La Cañada, Calif., defeated Kimberly Kim, 17, of Hilo, Hawaii, 7 and 6, on Saturday to win the 2009 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship at the 6,267-yard, par-72 Red Tail Golf Club.
With the usual match-play concessions, Song was nine under par for the 30 holes of the scheduled 36-hole match. Hitting tee shots in the 250-yard range, she never missed a fairway (23 of 23) and hit 25 of 30 greens in regulation.
Song, a sophomore business major at the University of Southern California, said it was the best golf she has played in competition. The margin of victory was the largest in the 33-year history of the WAPL.
“Today I was super hot,” said Song. “I can’t believe I made a bunch of birdies, and some of the putts were really hard. The speed was really crucial and I didn’t expect to make them. I just said, ‘Jen, get the speed right, and I’ll be very happy.’ They just dropped in and I’m so grateful.”
No putt showed more skill than the downhill, right-breaking 12-footer that she made for birdie at the 25th hole to go 7 up.
“At that point I thought, ‘Okay, you’ve got it, so don’t change yourself. Stay in this attitude you had this whole week,’” said Song.
Song made 10 birdies and just two were conceded, an 18-foot birdie putt on the 13th hole and a tap-in on the 26th hole. She made only one bogey in the match (the ninth hole of the morning 18).
With a 5-up advantage after 18 holes, Song captured the par-3 25th hole with a birdie to go 6 up. Kim birdied the par-4 24th hole to regain the 5-up margin, but then Song birdied the next two par-4 holes, the 25th and 26th to go 7 up. The match ended on the 30th green after Song holed a 3-foot par putt.
Kim in 2006 became the youngest winner of the U.S. Women’s Amateur at the age of 14. In that final match she was five holes down after the morning 18 to Katharina Schallenberg, the same margin by which she was down after 18 holes in Saturday’s WAPL final. But this time, Kim could not rally.
She was one under par, with the usual match-play concessions, with five birdies and four bogeys.
“I really tried hard to focus on my game, because she was having such a hot day,” said Kim, who also was the runner-up to Tiffany Joh in the 2006 WAPL final.
This was Song’s first national championship. She was runner-up in the 2009 NCAA Division I Women’s Championship and runner-up to Joh in this championship last year. She will next play at the U.S. Women’s Open, which begins July 9 at Saucon Valley Country Club in Bethlehem, Pa.
For Kim, this week’s performance was a redemption of sorts. Following the 2006 season, the incoming freshman at the University of Denver (Colorado) had virtually disappeared from the winner’s circle, although she was a semifinalist at the 2007 U.S. Women’s Amateur, where she beat Song in the quarterfinals. Earlier this year, however, she won the Rolex Junior Girls Championship and was the medalist at her sectional qualifying site for the U.S. Women’s Open. This was her first championship final in three years.
“To myself, I’m just playing,” said Kim, “but maybe in others’ opinions, I’m coming back.”
The U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links is one of 13 national championships conducted by the United States Golf Association, of which 10 are strictly for amateurs.