Eun Jeong Seong will be bringing a lot of match-play momentum when she arrives at Rolling Green Golf Club for the U.S. Women’s Amateur next week.
The 16-year-old from South Korea rallied from 5-down to capture her second straight U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship with a 4 and 2 victory over 17-year-old Andrea Lee of Hermosa Beach, Calif. Saturday at Ridgewood Country Club, an A.W. Tillinghast classic in Paramus, N.J.
Seong is the first repeat winner of the U.S. Girls’ Junior since Hall of Famer Hollis Stacy won the last of her three in a row in 1971. And she did it against a very tough opponent. Lee, who will join the powerful Stanford program next month, was a member of the U.S. team that fell to a very strong Great Britain-Ireland team in the Curtis Cup Match in Ireland.
Lee had six birdies during the morning round of the scheduled 36-hole final and twice held a 5-up lead. But Seong started battling back and won the 18th with a par to cut Lee’s lead to 3-up heading into the break.
Seong then came out firing in the afternoon round, winning the 19th, 22nd and 23rd holes to even the match.
The match see-sawed until Seong sank a seven-foot birdie putt on the 29th hole to take a 1-up lead. On the 30th hole, Seong’s shot with a 60-degree wedge from 42 yards away found the bottom of the cup for an eagle and a 2-up lead.
Seong was on her way to hoisting the Glenna Collett Vare Trophy for the second year in a row.
“It’s a little bit different feel than last year,” Seong told the USGA website. “Last year, it was a little bit hard. But I trusted myself today and I have confidence. This morning was so hard because I was losing 5-down, but it’s OK because I had a lot of holes (left).”
Meanwhile, Min Woo Lee, a 17-year-old from Perth, Australia, survived a couple of weather delays to pull out a 2 and 1 decision over Noah Goodwin, a 16-year-old from Corinth, Texas in the U.S. Junior Amateur final at The Honors Course in Ooltewah, Tenn. Saturday.
Lee is the younger brother of LPGA Tour player Minjee Lee, who won the 2012 U.S. Girls’ Junior, making them the first brother and sister to win the USGA’s junior events.
Lee, who fought back from 2-down deficits three different times during the scheduled 36-hole final over the 7,326-yard, par-72 Pete Dye design, was 1-down to Goodwin when the first weather delay hit after they had hit their tee shots on the on the 32nd hole of the match, the par-3 14th.
When they returned, both players drained their birdie putts and they halved the next hole. But Lee turned the tables on Goodwin as he won the 33rd hole with a par and the 34th hole with a birdie to take a 1-up lead with two holes to go.
As Lee lined up a three-and-a-half foot birdie putt on the 35th hole to win the match, another weather delay hit. After a short delay, Lee came back and holed the putt to take the title.