Golf: South Korea’s Choi wins US Women’s Open
KOHLER, Wisconsin – South Korea’s Na Yeon Choi won the US Women’s Open on Sunday, showing a champion’s resolve in the face of adversity to claim her first major title.
Choi, 24, fired a one-over 73 at Blackwolf Run for a seven-under total of 281 and a four-shot victory over another South Korean, Amy Yang.
Choi had gone into the final round with a six-shot lead thanks to a remarkable 65 in Saturday’s wind-whipped third round.
Yang carded a one-under 71 for a three-under total of 285, with no other players finishing under par for the event.
Choi’s triumph came on the same course where Se Ri Pak won the 1998 US Women’s Open, a victory Choi recalls watching on television as a girl.
“And 14 years later I’m here right now, and I made it,” Choi said.
“My dreams come true. It’s an amazing day today, and I really appreciate what Se Ri did and all the Korean players, they did. It’s really no way I can be here without them.”
Pak was among the players who rushed out to spray Choi with champagne and hug her after the last putt dropped at 18.
“She (said), ‘Hey, Na Yeon, I’m really proud of you. You did a really good job, and you (were) really calm out there,'” Choi said. “She talked to me a lot, and she was hugging me.”
Despite the big lead she took into the round, Choi had plenty of work to do on Sunday, especially after a triple-bogey eight at the par-five 10th hole.
Her tee shot was left into deep rough and after she was unable to find her ball she returned to the 10th tee.
Yang, meanwhile, parred the hole to cut the deficit to two shots.
“That moment, maybe I thought I might screw up today,” Choi said. “But I thought I needed to fix that. I can do it. So I tried to think what I have to do.”
Choi bounced back with a birdie at 11, but was in trouble again at 12, where her approach shot ended up in tall, dry grass short of the green.
She chipped out and found the green, rolling in a 20-footer to save par.
At 13 she had a narrow escape when her tee shot headed toward the water but along the rocks and stayed dry.
She picked up birdies at 15 and 16 to regain control.
“I knew she was going to play well,” Yang said. “She’s very consistent player.”
Choi, who came into the tournament ranked fifth in the world, claimed her sixth LPGA title and her first major. She is projected to rise to number two in the world when the new rankings are published on Monday.
Until Sunday, Choi had eight major top-10 finishes, including a tie for second at the US Women’s Open in 2010.
Choi became the fourth South Korean to win the event in the past five years, following Inbee Park in 2008, Eun-Hee Ji in 2009 and So Yeon Ryu last year.
Pak said she was pleased that her victory in 1998, the first major golf title for a South Korean, had inspired so many in her homeland.
“After I won the US Open, they’re watching this moment here, and they know what golf is and they think of their dreams,” Pak said.
Germany’s Sandra Gal carded a 74 on Sunday to finish third on one-over 289.
Il Hee Lee of South Korea, Feng Shanshan of China and Italian Giulia Sergas were tied on two-over.
World number one Yani Tseng of Taiwan couldn’t get her game going all week and finished 14-over. She remains in search of a US Women’s Open win to complete her career Grand Slam.
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