When Candie Kung, 19, of Chinese Taipei, defeated Missy Farr-Kaye, of Scottsdale, Ariz., 2 up, to win the 2001 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship at Kemper Lakes Golf Club in Long Grove, Ill., she became the second foreign-born WAPL champion, joining Pearl Sinn. It also was Kung’s first national title in the United States. Kung, the 1997 U.S. Girls’ Junior runner-up, became the first of two Chinese Taipei golfers to win the WAPL. Yani Tseng would win the championship three years later, beating Michelle Wie in the final.Kung, a former University of Southern California All-American who won the 2000 Pacific-10 Conference title, currently playson the LPGA Tour, where she owns four victories, three of which came in the 2003 season. She also was the runner-up to Eun-Hee Ji at the 2009 U.S. Women’s Open..
What did winning the WAPL mean to you?It means a lot to me because it’s a USGA event. Ever since I started to play golf, I wanted to win a USGA event – it didn’t matter what it was. The [U.S.] Girls’ Junior, the Women’s Public Links, the [U.S.] Women’s Amateur – I always tried to win those events because the USGA holds great events. The golf courses are always tough, which suits my game because I hit it pretty straight and I’m pretty consistent. Also, the match-play format in the amateur events gives me a tougher mentality going into every match.
What is your most vivid memory from that championship week?
All I remember is my dad caddied for me, and it was a great win because he was on the bag. He caddied for me the week before that [at the Women’s Western Amateur], so he was on the bag for two weeks in a row. We both were kind of tired toward the end of the week. But we got the trophy at the end of the week. I loved that trophy because I always wanted that trophy, or any USGA event trophy. That’s pretty much all I remember because it was a long time ago.
When you won the WAPL the week after the Women’s Western Amateur, you had played 17 rounds, or 282 holes of competitive golf, in 14 days. You must have been exhausted, but you were aWAPL stroke-play medalist who also happened to win the championship. Was that satisfying to win both stroke play and the match-play portion of the event?
Oh yeah, I was definitely tired, but being 19 years old actually helped. When you are 19, your body doesn’t get tired and you just go and go and go. And when you’re winning matches, you don’t even know you are playing 36 holes in one day. You just go. And then you go back to your hotel room, sleep, wake up and you go again. If you wanted me to do that right now, I wouldn’t be able to do it, but at 19 years old, you can do whatever you want.
Does a particular match stand out?
I don’t remember anything at all. All I do is go out there and play one shot at a time. I tried to keep hitting it in the fairway, keep hitting it on the green, keep making my putts, and hopefully win the hole and just keep it going. I don’t really know who my competitors are. I just go.
Do you still stay in touch with anyone you met at the WAPL?
It’s kind of hard to meet somebody at the Women’s Public Links because all of these girls are from the public golf courses and the top junior golfers – most of them – belong to country clubs. So I don’t really get to play with a whole lot of players who come out from public [courses].
Where does the WAPL title fit into your golf career?
It plays a very important part in my golf career just because [in] USGA events … you have to be mentally tough and physically fit to be able to play that many rounds, and you have to be consistent in all the matches to get to the championship round [and] then to win it. The preparation of winning the Public Links started when I was a junior, building up to that event, and that event gave me confidence to go on. I actually qualified [for the LPGA Tour] at LPGA Q-School at the end of that year, so it played a big part in my golf career.
How do you feel about the WAPL championship being retired after this year?
It’s kind of sad. There are so many golfers out there who don’t have a country club to play and the Public Links gives these girls an opportunity to play against the girls who grow up at a public golf course and don’t have the privilege to practice at country clubs. But there’s going to be more tournaments out there for girls to play, so it’s going to be awesome.
Lisa Mickey is a Florida-based freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on USGA websites.