AS A 10 YEAR OLD Na Yeon Choi watched fellow countrywoman Se Ri Pak make US Women’s Open history at Blackwolf run in 1998. Today it was her turn.
The 24 year old had the biggest win of her career and became the ninth South Korean to win a women’s major championship on the LPGA Tour.
“Se Ri really inspired me to become an LPGA player,” Choi said. “She inspired all the Korean players. My dream when I was 10 was just to be out here on the LPGA tour. And 14 years later I’m here right now, and I made it. My dreams come true. It’s an amazing day today, and like I really appreciate what Se Ri did and all the Korean players did.”
Choi was four shots off the lead after the second round but in blustery conditions in the third round shot a course record 65 (12 strokes lower than the field average) to take a six-shot lead going into the final day.
Things didn’t go all her way on Sunday, particularly starting the back nine with a triple bogey, but the young Korean held her nerve and sunk some magnificent putts.
Choi finished with a 1-over 73 to end the tournament on 7-under, four shots ahead of compatriot Amy Young (71) with Germany’s Sandra Gal (74) third on 1-over.
As compatriots and family rushed to congratulate Choi on the 18th green, there was a slight bow of acknowledgement to Se Ri Pak.
“I can’t believe this. Maybe I can feel it when I get to Korea,” Choi said. “But you know, I think I did a really good job (Sunday). I had really good patience, and I was very calm. I controlled my emotions really well.”
This was Choi’s sixth win on the tour and she is expected to regain her No.2 spot behind world No.1 Yani Tseng, who had a disappointing outing.
Tseng said she played “like some amateur” during a back-nine 45. She shot 78 and finished at 14 over. That put her tied for 50th along with Australia’s Karrie Webb (74) who was smarting after an 81 on Saturday.
The only other Aussie in the field was Katherine Hull (76) who matched that Saturday 81 and finished on 17-over.
The top American was Paula Creamer (74) who finished tied for seventh on 3-over.
2012 US Women”s Open Final Leaderboard