U.S. WOMEN'S AMATEUR PUBLIC LINKS
Kono faces friend at Publinx
ERIN, Wis. » Stephanie Kono says Michelle Shin cracks her up, and that's usually a good thing. But Kono hoped her friend wouldn't do anything to make her laugh while she was trying to swing a golf club today.
Kono, a recent Punahou graduate, and Shin, from Cape Coral, Fla., were slated to battle in a quarterfinal match of the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship this morning. Tee time was set for 3 a.m. Hawaii Time at Erin Hills Golf Course in Wisconsin, which is five hours ahead of the islands.
"She's one of my best friends," Kono said of Shin. "We met through junior golf events.
"She makes me laugh, she's very funny," said Kono, in a phone interview yesterday after winning two matches. "It happens sometimes in match play that you get paired up with a friend. It's tough, but it creates a fun environment.
"You're playing your friend, but the bottom line is I have to go out there (today) and beat her."
A victory, and Kono would play in the afternoon semifinals against the winner of a match between Lauren Doughtie and Jennifer Song. The 36-hole final is tomorrow.
Kono cruised yesterday to match her farthest advance in five Publinx tournaments, first accomplished last year. She dispatched Ani Gulugian of Irvine, Calif., 3 and 2 and Alexandra Stewart of Peoria, Ariz., 5 and 4.
Shin trounced Ellen Mueller from Bartlesville, Okla., 5 and 3, but needed 19 holes to beat Angela Oh of Maple Shade, N.J.
"Playing so many holes in a week is really tough, especially tough mentally," said Kono, who only needed 15 holes to win her first-round match on the 6,158-yard par-73 course Wednesday. "But I've saved some energy with some short matches. I'm just trying to stay patient."
The soft-spoken Kono has always been competitive, but she said she's learned not to let up when she gets a lead early in a match.
"I don't play defensively. That was my mistake before when I did not advance in match play. Now when I go 1 up, I try to go up 2," she said. "I'm comfortable when I'm up."
She said she's played the back nine considerably better than the front all week. Kono said she made five birdies on the seven holes she played after the turn in yesterday's first match.
Kono is headed for UCLA in the fall. Another Bruin, Tiffany Joh, who won the 2006 tournament, also advanced to the quarterfinals.
Joh opened with a 3-and-2 victory over Bruins teammate Sydnee Michaels in the second round and then held off 14-year-old Jaye Marie Green of Boca Raton, Fla., 2 and 1 in the third round.
Green birdied the par-5 10th hole to cut Joh's lead to one, but Joh won the 11th and 14th to push her advantage to three. Green cut the deficit to two holes by taking the 16th, and Joh ended the match when they halved the 17th with pars.
"She was really impressive," Joh said. "I think players 14 years old are the most dangerous because they have no fear."
Joh was scheduled to face Lee Lopez of Whittier, Calif., this morning.
Lopez beat Lynette Duran of Lakewood, Colo., 3 and 1 yesterday morning, and edged Aimee Neff of Carmel, Ind., 3 and 2 in the afternoon.
In the other lower-bracket quarterfinal, Tiffany Lua of Rowland Heights, Calif., was to face Stacey Kim of Columbus, Ga. Lua advanced with a 20-hole victory over Taiwan's Tzu Chi Lin, and Kim beat Michelle Bowles of Davison, Mich., 4 and 3.
Doughtie beat Emily Powers of Quincy, Ill., 3 and 2; and Song beat fellow South Korean Ha-Na Jang 4 and 3.