Kono falls to Song in Publinx semifinal
ERIN, Wis. » Stephanie Kono's strong run at the Publinx ended yesterday. But she got a head start on a college rivalry.
A back-and-forth semifinal match culminated with Jennifer Song beating Kono 2-up and ending the Punahou graduate's best effort in five tries at the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship. Kono will get opportunities for revenge at least a few times in the coming years: She will be on the golf team at UCLA starting next season, and Song will be a freshman at USC.
"We'll be looking for each other," Kono said.
Tiffany Joh - a current star at UCLA - was scheduled to try to get a head start on the redemption for the Bruins today against Song in the 36-hole championship. Joh, the 2006 Publinx champ from San Diego, beat Tiffany Lua from Rowland Heights, Calif. (yet another Bruin, starting in 2009), 4 and 3 in the other semifinal at Erin Hills Golf Course.
It could've been Kono today against Joh. But Song parred the par-4 17th to take a 1-up lead. At the par-5 18th hole, Song was on the green for a birdie try when Kono's approach from 40 yards sailed 15 yards past the pin.
"My fourth shot was a good chip coming back, but not good enough," Kono said.
She then conceded the birdie putt - and with it the match - to Song.
"It was a good match. Nobody got more than 2-up," Kono said.
Kono won her morning semifinal against Michelle Shin of Cape Coral, Fla., 5 and 4.
Playing what she called her best golf of the week, Kono won five of the last six holes to secure the victory against her good friend. With the match all-square going to the par-3 ninth hole, Kono took advantage of an errant tee shot by Shin.
"On nine she hit it in the bunker and it took her two to get out," said Kono, a 2007 WAPL quarterfinalist. "I was just trying to lag my putt down there and it went in. After that all my putts started going in."
Song, from South Korea, beat Lauren Doughtie of Suffolk, Va., 4 and 3 in the morning.
Joh, the 2006 winner at Walking Stick in Pueblo, Colo., beat Lee Lopez of Whittier, Calif., 2 and 1 in the quarterfinals, before beating Lua in the semifinals on the 6,158-yard, par-73 course.
Joh, the runner-up in the NCAA tournament and a member of the victorious U.S. Curtis Cup team, birdied six of the first seven holes to take a 6-up lead over Lua.
"I don't know what happened," said Joh, who made three putts of 30 feet. "A lot of the putts I was just trying to lag and they just went in."
Kono said she will try to qualify for the U.S. Women's Amateur, Aug. 4-10 at Eugene Country Club in Eugene, Ore., but does not plan to play as strenuous a summer schedule as in past years.
"Right now I'm just looking forward to getting home," she said. "It seemed like a long week."