Focused Song powers into Am finals
Saturday, August 8, 2009
ST. LOUIS – It’s easy to draw parallels between Jennifer Song’s decision to watch the hyper-active, hyper-violent action flick “Shooter” Friday night and the fact that she cruised into the finals of the U.S. Women’s Amateur Saturday afternoon.
Song insists the film – which stars Mark Wahlberg as an elite sniper on the run – had nothing to do with her knocking down pins throughout her semifinal match with 18-year-old Tiffany Lua.
“It was extreme,” Song said of the film.
The same can’t be said of the petite, soft-spoken American, but her golf over the last several months has been X-Games extreme.
She enters Sunday’s final with a chance to become just the second player in history to win both the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links and Women’s Amateur in the same year. Pearl Sinn did it in 1988.
“I am so excited,” Song said. “Being given this chance to play in the final is a great honor to me.”
Song was never threatened by Lua en route to her 3-and-2 semifinals victory. Lua, one of the few players who managed to smile after a loss this week, shed some light on where Song’s dominance comes from.
“She’s very focused. She’s really in the zone in a different kind of way,” Lua said.
That focus – impervious to large galleries or pressure – comes from CDs of sports psychologist Dr. Bob Rotella that Song said “soothes” her.
The only other player who may match Song in level of focus is Jennifer Johnson, who Song will face in the final. Johnson, an 18-year-old bound for Arizona State in the fall, has not trailed once in 76 holes of match play at Old Warson Golf Club.
Song, a sophomore-to-be at USC, knows very little of Johnson. Lua, however, is well-acquainted with Johnson, as both have been mainstays on the AJGA.
“Of course I want [Song] to win, because she beat me,” Lua said. “Whoever’s going to win is going to deserve it on this course.”
Lua, by her own admission, didn’t deserve to beat Song in their semifinal match. Too many loose swings and too many missed putts at crucial moments doomed Lua in the end.
Song built a 4-up lead through seven holes, and the closest Lua ever came to matching Song was when she narrowed the gap to 2 down through 14 holes.
Lua came to the 15th with momentum turning in her favor. Her tee shot found short rough but she managed to punch her approach short of the green. From the middle of the fairway, Song hit her approach to 20 feet and managed to two-putt for par. Lua hit a deft flop to 3 feet, but pushed the putt and missed, surrendering whatever momentum she had back to Song.
Song, dormie as she stood on the 16th, closed out Lua with a par.
“Today was really tough,” Song said. “It never seemed like she would make any mistakes.”
Song compared the road to the final of the Women’s Am to that of the WAPL, where she defeated Kimberly Kim, 7 and 6, to win the title.
“Both were really hard,” she said. “There are a lot of competitive players... It was a hard trip getting up here.”
There is no shortage of experience from which Song can draw.
“I just have to eliminate everything that comes into my head except golf.”
She’s taking a breath. Target locked. The Women’s Am is in Song’s crosshairs.