~by Rick Woelfel~
Na Yeon Choi has won the 67th U.S. Women’s Open Championship. She closed with a 1-over par 73 on Sunday at Blackwolf Run in Kohler, Wisconsin. To finish the 72 holes at 7-under par 281. It’s the first major title for the 24-year old Choi and the sixth win of her career. Amy Yang finished alone in second place after a closing 71 put her at 3-under par 285. She was the only other player among the 65 that played on the weekend to break par.
Sandra Gol finished alone in third place after a closing 74 that put her at 289. Ilhee Lee, Shanshan Feng, and Giulia Sergas were all at 290. 2010 Women’s Open champion Paula Creamer and Mika Miyazato were at 291, while a group at 292 included Nicole Castrale, Innbee Park, Cristie Kerr. Suzanne Pettersen, and Se Ri Pak. Park, Kerr, and Pak are all former Women’s Open champions; Pak in fact won her Open title at Blackwolf Run in 1998.
Choi started the day six shots clear of the field and played her first nine holes in even par. But she hit rough seas at the par-5 10th when she hooked her tee short into a hazard, had to re-tee and wound up taking a triple bogey. At that point her lead over Yang was down to three shots. Choi responded with a birdie at the 11th and a par at the 12th before catching a break at the par-3 13th when her tee shot seemed destined for a hazard, but kicked twice off some rocks and ended up on the green. She two-putted for par from there and was never threatened after that. “(At the 10th hole) I thought I might screw up today,” Choi said, “but I thought I needed to fix that. I can do it. So I tried to think what I have to do. So I decided I have to talk with my caddie. So I started to talk with my caddie about just like what airplane tomorrow, or about the car or about the vacation.
“And then I had a good result on 11. I made a birdie, and I had a good par on 12. After that I got really good vibes from there. And 13 I had a little bit miss to the right, but after two bounce and ball kicked to the left from right side hazard, so I think I pretty good control my emotions today.”
It was an emotional day for Choi, who was congratulated by Pak, her idol, following her final putt at the 72nd hole. “She said, ‘Na Yeon, I’m really proud of you. You did a really good job, and you was really calm out there.’ She talked to me a lot. And she was hugging me,” Choi said. “ That was like 14 years ago I was only  years old, and like when I was watching TV, my goal was like my dream was like I just want to be there. And 14 years later I’m here right now, and I made it. My dreams come true.”
Choi is the fourth South Korean player to win the Women’s Open in the past five years. The others were Innbee Park (2008), Eun-Hee-Ji (2009) and So Yeon Ryu last year. Choi herself tied for second in the 2010 Open at Oakmont, which was won by Paula Creamer.
For a full leaderboard go to www.lpga.com
Na Yeon Choi -8, Rolex Rankings No. 5
Amy Yang -3, Rolex Rankings No. 13
Sandra Gal +1, Rolex Rankings No. 39
Suzann Pettersen +4, Rolex Rankings No. 6
Se Ri Pak +4, Rolex Rankings No. 33 and 1998 U.S. Women’s Open champion
Lexi Thompson +5, Rolex Rankings No. 23
Michelle Wie +10, Rolex Rankings No. 40
Lydia Ko +12, (a)
Yani Tseng +14, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Na Yeon Choi first dreamt of playing on the LPGA Tour when at the age of 10, she watched Se Ri Pak capture the 1998 U.S. Women’s Open at Blackwolf Run. On Sunday, Choi’s dreams of becoming a major winner came true as she took home the 2012 U.S. Women’s Open title on the same course where Pak captured her most memorable victory. Choi shot a final-round, 1-over 73 to take a four-shot victory over fellow South Korean Amy Yang and earn her first ever major title.
Cover photo of Na Yeon Choi hoisting the U.S. Women’s Open trophy after winning the title at Blackwolf Run courtesy of USGA (John Mummert/USGA)
The 2012 U.S. Women’s Open Championship – Three Share Lead at Women’s Open
~By Rick Woelfel~
Cristie Kerr, Brittany Lincicome and Lizette Salas all share the lead after the first round of the 67th U.s. Women’s Open Championship. All shot 3-under par 69s at Blackwolf Run in Kohler, Wisconsin.
Four players are at 2-under par 70 including Lexi Thompson, Jennie Lee, Beatriz Recari, and Ai Miyazato. A group at 71 includes Na Yeon Choi, Suzann Pettersen, Vicky Hurst, Mika Miyazato, Innbee Park, Sandra Gal, and Meena Lee. Nine players are ay 72 including Se Ri Pak, who won this championship over this golf course in 1998.
Kerr, who won the Women’s Open in 2007, has battled inconsistency this season. But she’s placed in the top 20 in each of the past four Women’s Opens. “My goal is to kind of play like this consistently for the rest of this week and we’ll see where we’re it falls,” she said. “Been pretty inconsistent this year. But I’ve found that determination, that fire in my belly today.” Kerr said bouncing back from a few shaking shots today showed her she has all the tools this week to keep it together. “I hooked it in the hazard my first hole today and made an unbelievable par on 10 getting up and down from 135 yards, making a 15-foot or 20-foot par putt,” she said. “That proved to myself I was there. In a way it was good that happened. I said to myself ‘no, I’m not letting it go this way today. I’m not letting it go this way this week.”
Salas, who had to qualify to get into the field, was the first of the leaders to finish. “I know it’s four long days, and it’s really hot out here,” she said. “I was trying to stay cool and just trying to have fun and play the best golf that I can. I just have the best team around me that allows me to have fun at what I’m doing and to not put so much pressure on myself and just smiling out there.”