NESHANIC STATION, N.J. -– Alice Jeong topped her tee shot on the 15th hole into a water hazard. National championship nerves can do that to a person. Jeong, who was 4 up with four to play, didn’t panic. She knew she could afford the mistake.
Jeong took one more hole to defeat Annie Park, a more heralded teen from Levittown, N.Y., to advance to the semifinals of the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship at toasty Neshanic Valley Golf Course. This is Park’s first adventure in match play.
“It’s overwhelming,” she said after the match.
Jeong, 17, took down medalist Lisa McCloskey in the second round and then ousted Michigan State’s Allyssa Ferrell in the Round of 16. She has verbally committed to Cal-Berkeley.
Next up Jeong is the petite Kyung Kim, an 18-year-old from Arizona who will attend USC in the fall. Kim was 5 under in her match against 16-year-old Lakareber Abe. The mistake-free round highlighted her consistent ball-striking. Kim, who stands at 5 feet, 2 1/2 inches simply wanted to make it past the Round of 32, her previous best at a USGA event.
Kim has her father, Douglas, on the bag. He was helping her put Band-Aids on her blisters prior to the afternoon matches. Players who make it past Round 1 at the WAPL play double rounds the remaining three days.
In the upper-half of the WAPL bracket, Texas Tech’s Kim Kaufman, 20, defeated reigning NCAA champ Chirapat Jao-Javanil on the 18th green. Kaufman and teammate Gabby Dominguez became the first players in Texas Tech history to earn All-American honors in the spring. A native of South Dakota, Kaufman advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2009 U.S. Girls’ Junior down the road at Trump National in Bedminster, N.J. She’ll face 16-year-old Ashlan Ramsey in the day’s second semifinal match.
Ramsey, of Milledgeville, Ga., defeated Pepperdine’s Grace Na, 3 and 1.
“She outplayed me,” Na said. “I didn’t give her the match.”
Ramsey’s goal heading into the week was to finish top 10 in stroke play. She didn’t manage to do that, but safe to say she’s not all that disappointed.