In Any Language, Quarterfinal WAPL Victory Sweet For Korean Park
By Stuart Hall
Devens, Mass. — Jisoo Park’s command of the English language is so limited that she relies on her Scottish-born caddie Mark Lamb to field media questions. The smile that splashed across Park’s 14-year-old face late Friday morning, though, bridged any language barrier.
The Daegu, Korea native, who is spending the summer at a golf academy in Beaumont, Calif., never wavered from her gameplan in posting a 1-up win over Cydney Clanton, 19, of Rockwell, N.C., in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links at Red Tail Golf Club.
Park, decidedly shorter than Clanton off the tee, consistently hit fairways, hit greens in regulation and two-putted for pars. Park’s metronome rhythm also appeared to add to Clanton’s frustration over her own short game.
“I tried to use that to inspire Jisoo,” said Lamb. “[Clanton] kind of beat herself.”
Clanton immediately left the course following her loss without talking to reporters.
After a lunch break, Park was scheduled to face Jennifer Song, the 2008 WAPL and 2009 NCAA Women’s Championship runner-up, in one afternoon semifinal match.
Park’s win over Clanton was her fourth straight that went to at least the 18th hole, including 21- and 19-hole wins, respectively, in the opening two rounds. But her endurance for golf is extending well beyond her matches.
Park, her father and Lamb arrived at the club at 5:30 a.m. to work on Park’s chipping and putting. They also practiced well before and after Thursday’s lengthy two-round day.
“She does this every day, so she’s used to it,” said Lamb, who played collegiately at the University of Arizona and serves as her instructor along with Jeff Yoon and Henry Liaw, the 2001 U.S. Junior Amateur champ who also played at Arizona, at their golf academy at East Valley Golf Club in Beaumont.
“So playing 36 holes is not that big of a deal. Back home she practices from 8 [a.m.] until 6 [p.m.] nearly every day, so this is not anything new.”
Such repetition has benefited Park, especially against Clanton, a junior-to-be at Auburn University who was making her WAPL debut and playing in her fifth USGA event. Given the usual match-play concessions, Park shot the equivalent of 1-under 71. Four times she won holes to erase one-hole deficits.
The biggest of the three came at the 155-yard, par-3 11th. After Clanton rolled her birdie attempt from 55 feet to within concession distance, Park converted her 35-foot downhill putt to square the match.
“I’d say that’s where the momentum turned,” said Lamb. “Even though [Clanton] won the next hole, and they were throwing holes back and forth, I don’t think she was expecting that.”
Park would later stiff her approach shot to within 6 feet of the hole at the 366-yard, par-4 16th and was conceded the birdie to square the match.
Park’s only lead came at the 517-yard, par-5 18th hole to secure the victory. Clanton’s booming drive from a teeing ground that was moved up some 40 yards made reaching the green easily accessible in two, while Park had no choice but to lay up.
“I just figured after that drive, she’d reach the green in two, two putt and the match would be over,” said Lamb.
But a funny thing happened on the way to an apparent defeat. Clanton pushed her second shot into the angled green right and caught the water hazard at its furthest point. Despite still in the hole after Park found the rough above the left side of the green, Clanton left her fourth roughly 30 feet short of the hole and then gave a half-hearted run at par. After Park’s fourth shot rolled down and past the hole, Clanton missed her 5-foot bogey attempt and conceded the hole.
“It was a mixed round,” said Lamb, “some good shots, some bad.”
The smile, though, told the outcome.