Do wins final hole to claim WAPL title over Dodd
BANDON, Ore. – Brianna Do led only three times in 36 holes at the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links finals. Twice Marissa Dodd immediately brought the match back to all square. The third time Do won a hole, however, happened to be the 36th. Dodd couldn’t answer.
“The last two holes are where it counted, and my putting kind of showed up,” said Do (pronounced “dough”), who made an 8-footer on the 35th hole for birdie and two-putted the 36th to win with par at Bandon’s Old Macdonald.
Do, 21, came into the final of the WAPL with a stronger resume than Dodd. The UCLA senior didn’t feel like the favorite though after Dodd’s extended family flew up from Texas at the last-minute to watch their bubbly 17-year-old try to win in only her second match play tournament. At times they were quite vocal, and the Dodd entourage certainly outnumbered Do’s gallery, which included her mom, sister and a puppy named Kira.
“Definitely a lot of people for the other side today,” said Do, who put her sunglasses for the last nine holes and tried to ignore it.
For Do, this championship helps ease the blow of watching her teammates win the national championship in Texas while she was sitting at home. Do played as an individual in several events this spring, but didn’t represent UCLA in any postseason action.
The WAPL marked Do’s first tournament since March, and five Bruins advanced to match play this week. Do is the third Bruin to win this title, joining Tiffany Joh (’06 and ’08) and Mary Enright (’81).
“The five that played that tournament kind of have a different meaning with the national championship because they were a part of it,” Do said. “This is kind of my own. This is kind of my national championship.”
Motivated to get her game in order, Do began working with good friend James Oh, the 1998 U.S. Junior champion. Oh has helped Do hit the ball farther and higher.
To get to the final match, Do had to take down two USGA champions – Kristen Park and Emily Tubert – as well as fellow Bruin senior Stephanie Kono. Tubert actually came out to watch Do play the afternoon session before catching her flight back to Burbank.
When the pair broke for lunch, Dodd held a 1-up advantage over Do and quickly built her lead to 3-up through 22 holes in the afternoon.
Do thought to herself, “Let’s try not to lose by a really big margin.”
“That’s probably not the way to think,” she admitted.
It didn’t hurt. Do won the next three consecutive holes to bring the match back to all square.
Dodd looked like she was back in control when she birdied the 32nd hole to take a 1-up advantage. A three-putt from Dodd on the 34th, however, kept her from building the lead. Do brought the match back to all square with a birdie on the 35th and cranked a drive into perfect position on the last hole. Dodd was in the left fairway bunker.
“My second shot had a little downhill lie, and I was like, ‘OK, just whatever you do, don’t skull it,’ ” Do said. “Just hit the ground.”
Dodd three-putted from the back end of the green and several family members groaned. Meanwhile Do enjoyed a warm embrace with her father, Max, who looped for her all week. Max Do was diagnosed with tonsil cancer several years ago. He was quite animated throughout the day, even falling to the ground in anguish when Brianna’s putts narrowly missed.
They had their moments, but as Do said earlier in the week: “I don’t think I want anyone else on the bag.”
Dodd, who also had her father on the bag, made her USGA appearance at last year’s U.S. Girls’ Junior and caught the attention of several Division I college coaches. She went into the championship with one scholarship offer from Baylor and soon after had six on the table, including Wake Forest, where Dodd eventually signed. Dodd made it to match play in Pinehurst via a 10-girl playoff and lost handily in the first round.
“It was really cool to showcase myself and prove myself to people who didn’t know,” Dodd said.
She took that limited experience to Bandon Dunes, where she experienced the windiest conditions of her young life and dazzled fans watching at home with her exuberant personality. Dodd always has something to say, and she’s usually wearing a smile when she says it.
“(This week) really has boosted my confidence a ton,” said Dodd. “Honestly, even though I’m a little bummed, I exceeded every expectation that I could’ve ever had.”