Kim, Ramsey advance to Public Links finale
NESHANIC STATION, N.J. – Saturday’s 36-hole final at the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links might be boring. A girl nicknamed “Radar” will be taking on the “Silent Assassin.” Boring in a fairways-and-greens kind of way, the kind of hum-drum golf we all dream of playing.
Kyung Kim of Chandler, Ariz., and Ashlan Ramsey of Milledgeville, Ga., have known each other for several years. They were Junior Solheim Cup teammates together in Ireland last fall, but they won’t be yukking it up around Neshanic Valley on Saturday. They’re quiet, focused players who never expected to make it this far at a national championship.
Ramsey, 16, was dormie on No. 17 when 20-year-old Kim Kaufman of South Dakota drained a 10-foot birdie putt to extend the match. After Kaufman went for the green in two on the par-5 18th, Ramsey decided to do the same. She hit the green with a 5-wood from 220 yards. Ramsey’s 40-foot eagle attempt came up 6 feet short, but she knocked in the winning putt to send Kaufman home.
“It was about time I made one of those putts,” Ramsey said. “It was a relief.”
Kim, 18, put her match to rest earlier. When Alice Jeong, 17, drove into the hazard on the par-4 16th. Kim nearly did the same, but managed to stay dry, securing her 3-and-2 victory with a two-putt par.
Kim’s biggest obstacle of the day was the blisters she has on each foot. The soon-to-be USC freshman hobbled around on this steamy day, shooting 5 under in her first match against 16-year-old Lakareber Abe, who took her to the 18th hole.
Kim has her father Douglas on the bag this week. The fiftysomething plays soccer in his spare time, so this double-round marathon isn’t really a problem. Douglas moved to the U.S. from South Korea, first living in Alaska. He returned to Korea and met his bride, and then moved the family to Hawaii. They now live in sunny Arizona, where the Kims own a smoke shop. Kim’s mother, Eun Young, is back at home minding the family business.
Should Kim win the WAPL on Saturday, she would become the sixth Kim - none related - to win a USGA event, joining Birdie, In-Kyung, Kimberly, Lion and Sihwan.
Interestingly enough, Kim points to In-Kyung (I.K.) Kim as the player whom she most admires on the LPGA. The two had lunch together at the U.S. Women’s Open last year in Colorado. A Google search of Kyung Kim brings up images and articles on I.K.
“Our games are kind of similar,” said Kim, who stands a half-inch shorter than I.K. at 5 feet, 2 1/2 inches.
Like Kim, Ramsey has never been to the final match of any competition. Both are strong iron players who rarely make big mistakes. Neshanic Valley presents players with numerous birdie opportunities, between the drivable par 4s and approach shots that require only a wedge. That’s a double bonus for Ramsey, who participates in the AJGA’s Birdies For Charity program but said her game typically amounts to “a lot of pars.”
Ramsey raises money for the Hunter Renfroe Fund. Renfroe died in a car accident two weeks shy of his high school graduation from the John Milledge Academy. His car was found upside down in a ditch. Renfroe, who was on his way home from school at the time of the accident, was one grade level ahead of Ramsey.
“He just made everyone smile all the time,” Ramsey said.
Ramsey’s money helps families in the community who are in need, such as the Milledge Academy girls’ basketball coach, whose 2-year-old son was diagnosed with leukemia. Ramsey raises $16 for every birdie she makes. During Friday’s semifinal match, she stared at the picture of Renfroe that hangs from her bag and immediately made birdie. She posted five birdies in the afternoon match and four in the morning session.
Here’s to a boatload of “boring” birdies, if there is such a thing, in the WAPL final.