Highland Meadows Golf Club
Final-round notes and interviews
July 4, 2010
It took overtime, but Na Yeon Choi (71) led wire-to-wire to win the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic Presented by Kroger Sunday, outlasting In-Kyung Kim (64), Song-Hee Kim (66) and Christina Kim (70) in a two-hole, sudden-death playoff. After all four players parred the par-5 18th, Choi knocked in a 3-footer for birdie on the par-5 17th hole at Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania, Ohio to take home her third LPGA victory.
“I was nervous, but I tried to focus on my game, so now I’m really happy,” said Choi, who also won the Samsung World Championship and the Hana Bank – KOLON Championship, both last year. “I’m really proud of the way I controlled my emotions today. I think it’s really special to have won wire-to-wire.”
Sunday was eerily reminiscent of Saturday, when Choi led big then bogeyed 14 and 15 to let the field back in. She actually came to the 72nd hole needing a 12-foot birdie putt to join the playoff. “I tried to talk with my caddie, and he tried to tell me, ‘Calm down,’” she said. “I was nervous after the two bogeys, but my caddie kept me calm, and I tried to think positive.” Choi has now birdied the 72nd hole in all three of her tournament wins.
After a birdie on 17 set off a raucous celebration audible on the far reaches of the back nine, Christina Kim came to 18 with a chance to win outright – Choi had just birdied moments before to get back to 14-under, and In-Kyung Kim and Song-Hee Kim were already in at 14-under. Christina Kim had 10 feet to get to 15-under and be the last women standing, but her putt stayed on the high side.
On the first hole of the playoff, all four players had birdie putts within 15 feet, Song-Hee Kim the closest at 5 feet. All missed. “The thing is, you have to expect everybody to make their putt,” Christina Kim said. “Once you get into match-play format, you have to think that someone’s gonna make it. I was surprised when none of the putts went in. It was a very difficult hole location, but still, I thought someone was going to make it.”
Of the quartet in the playoff, In-Kyung Kim came from the farthest out, matching the tournament low with a 7-under 64 in her final round. Though disappointed in defeat, “IK” had things in perspective. “I had a chance to win a tournament on the back nine, so that’s most important,” she said. “I’m a little bit more confident going into the major next week. I’ve been playing very good the last couple of weeks.” Her final round included seven birdies, no bogeys.
There were three 64s Sunday, one also belonging to Rolex Rankings No. 3 Jiyai Shin, the top-ranked player in the field this week. Shin birdied five of her last seven, including the last three, to shoot a 5-under 32 on the back nine. This round might be a good omen headed into the U.S. Women’s Open at Oakmont next week with the race to No. 1 being so tightly contested. “The last three days, my shots were up and down,” said Shin, who took over as Rolex Rankings No. 1 when Lorena Ochoa retired in May, but was supplanted seven weeks later by Ai Miyazato. “But today, my shots were really good, so I found my confidence. I’ve never played (Oakmont) before, so I don’t know, but I have a good feeling.”
The third 64 Sunday was carded by Hee-Young Park, who went from a tie for 29th to a tie for 7th at 11-under with the round. She opened with two straight birdies, then after a bogey on nine, she birdied 10, 11, 12 and 13, bogeyed 14 then closed with birdies on 16, 17 and 18. She made just one par over her last 10 holes.
Beatriz Recari, fifth in the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year race at the start of the day and Azahara Munoz, first, tied for low rookie this week, both carding 10-under par. Recari fired a final-round, 5-under 66 to chase down Munoz, who closed with a 1-under 70.
Of note… With this playoff loss, Song-Hee Kim has now had 16 top-10s in her last 19 starts…. Kristy McPherson had 18 straight pars Sunday…. Stacy Lewis, a native of Toledo before she moved away when she was 2, birdied the last hole but shot a disappointing 71-71 on the weekend to finish 6-under and T26. She was followed all week by the “Lew Crew,” made up of friends and extended family who still live in the area…. Defending champion Eunjung Yi shot an Even-par 71 to finish 5-under and in a tie for 32nd…. With her $4,844 check this week, Sun Young Yoo topped the $2-million mark in career earnings. She’s now at $2,003,458.
QUICK QUOTES WITH NA YEON CHOI, ROLEX RANKING: 11
“I was nervous, but I tried to focus on my game, so now I’m really happy. I’m really proud of the way I controlled my emotions today.”
“I think it’s really special to have won wire-to-wire.”
“I tried to talk with my caddie, and he tried to tell me, ‘Calm down.’ I was nervous after the two bogeys, but my caddie kept me calm, and I tried to think positive.”
QUICK QUOTES WITH IN-KYUNG KIM, ROLEX RANKING: 12
“I had a chance to win a tournament on the back nine, so that’s most important. I’m a little bit more confident going into the major next week. I’ve been playing very good the last couple of weeks.”
“We were playing two par-5s, which you can make birdie on. I had my chance, and everyone had their own chance.”
“On 17, I thought that putt was going to be faster than that. Maybe late in the afternoon slowed it down a bit.”
“I’m happy with how I played today. I hit a lot of good putts, and I made some putts today. So I did what I could do. I’m very happy with how I finished today.”
“Three years ago, I had seven birdies in a row on the front nine, so I knew I was capable of making birdies out here.”
“It’s up to Na Yeon, but she has been playing great golf all week.”
“I’m sure she’s going to birdie one of the two par-5s. It’s not playing that easy, so you still have to play your best. We’ll see what happens.”
QUICK QUOTES WITH SONG-HEE KIM, ROLEX RANKING: 8
“I really wanted to be winner of this tournament, because I’ve been waiting like four years. Anyway, my friend won, so I’m still happy about that.”
“We’ve known each other 13, 14 years.”
On the 2nd playoff hole: “I thought I hit it right. Then it won’t over the green. In the bunker, I couldn’t do anything because it was plugged. I had 72 yards (on the third shot). I thought I hit it a little bit hard, but I didn’t know the ball went that far.”
QUICK QUOTES WITH CHRISTINA KIM, ROLEX RANKING: 73
“The thing is, you have to expect everybody to make their putt. Once you get into match-play format, you have to think that someone’s gonna make it. I was surprised when none of the putts went in. It was a very difficult hole location, but still, I thought someone was going to make it.”