USC freshman Annie Park shot a 3-under 69 to win the Pac-12 Championship by two shots over teammate Sophia Popov. Park birdied the last hole with a 22-foot putt. USC won by 24 shots and was the lone team to shoot under par.
Here’s today’s column on USC freshman golfer Annie Park, who was tied for the lead heading into today’s final round.
JILL PAINTER on GOLF: USC freshman Park finding place up front at Pac-12 tournament
By Jill Painter, Staff Columnist
Posted: 04/23/2013 11:03:30 PM PDT
Updated: 04/23/2013 11:16:11 PM PDT
VALENCIA — Annie Park should be in high school, getting ready for her prom and playing the course she grew up on, Bethpage.
Park will return to New York in June for that final high school dance and while she won’t be wearing the queen’s crown, she will have one and maybe more collegiate golf tournament titles.
The USC freshman, who started school in January and turned 18 earlier this month, cracked the top five on the Trojans women’s golf team, won a tournament a month into her career and now is tied for the lead at 4-under with Stanford’s Mariah Stackhouse here at the Pac-12 Women’s Golf Championships at Valencia Country Club after two rounds.
She’ll play in the final group in today’s final round and draw on her vast experience, like qualifying and playing in the 2012 U.S. Women’s Open. She’d rather come from further back in the field, but the long-hitting newcomer will have a new test.
“I’d rather chase, but that’s just the way I think,” Park said. “I can play with the lead, too.”
Everything must seem easy when you learn how to play golf at Bethpage Black – site of the 2002 and 2009 U.S. Opens – and the other four courses there.
She won the 2012 Nassau Boys High School Championships by six shots there, becoming the first girl to ever win it.
“Apparently it was a big deal,” Park said with a shy laugh.
The course is about 7,200 yards, but that’s not intimidating when you’re a big hitter and live eight
minutes from the course and play there all the time. And that’s what people like to see. Park – who’s 5-foot-9 – can has had 300-yard drives before.
“I try to take advantage of my physical skills,” Park said. “Personally, I feel more happy when I’m making putts. Today, I couldn’t make anything from 15 feet and in. I’m more happy when I’m making putts. But I do feel good when I hit it well.”
Park typically outdrives her playing partners, but when she doesn’t: “I think they get happy when they hit it farther than me.”
USC coach Andrea Gaston knew about Park when she noticed her hometown Levittown, which is where her parents’ best friends live. She started recruiting her and once Park came for a visit, she fell in love with the campus and sun. She chose USC over Duke and Vanderbilt.
“She can bomb it and if her putter would be working, she’d be shooting really low scores,” USC coach Andrea Gaston said. “She seems to be able to focus well and stay in the moment. That’s a special quality for a young player.”
Her first victory was at the Bruin Wave Invitational at El Caballero Country Club in February, a 15-team event. She led after the first day and again took the lead in the third round and then won.
She isn’t all about golf and likes to dance.
“I keep telling my teammates that we need to make a video,” Park said.
After the season, she’ll head back to New York for that dance.
“I made up my mind, I’m going to prom,” Park said. “It will be my last high school event.”
She should have plenty of promising golf events in her future.
Jill Painter on the Masters: John Huh, Crescenta Valley graduate, has fantastic tournament in first Masters
By Jill Painter, Columnist
AUGUSTA, Ga – John Huh did so well in his first Masters appearance that he should automatically qualify to play at Augusta next year as well.
Huh, a Crescenta Valley High graduate, shot a 4-under 68 Sunday and is tied for 10th at 2-under 286 for the tournament, with players still on the course. If he remains in the top 12, he’ll qualify to play next year as well.
“That was my goal before I teed it up today, to try to come back if I could,” Huh said. “And then see what the outcome was.”
The outcome was fantastic for the 22-year-old Huh, who played in his first Masters.
Huh played the course for the first time in a practice round on Monday and his worst round was a 5-over 77 in Friday’s second round. After that round, he switched to a Scotty Cameron putter and shot a 1-under 71 in Saturday’s third round and made a nice run on Sunday.
At the 15th hole, Huh made an eagle with a 15-foot putt from the fringe.
“I had a really awkward lie, but I pulled the trigger on it,” Huh said.
Huh, who was last year’s PGA Tour rookie of the year, was excited about the hardware that comes with the eagle.
“I can get a crystal for the eagle,” Huh said with a smile. “I heard about it from K.J. (Choi) when I had a practice round with him. I actually had two chances, one on 13, too. I’ll take one though.”
Asked to choose a cool moment of the week, Huh pointed to his hole-in-one on No. 16 in a practice round Monday with Choi, Kevin Na and Y.E. Yang. Choi had fun with Huh, and
when the two got to the green, Choi took the ball out of the cup and pretended it was his.
“It was funny,” Huh said. “I knew what he was doing, but most people thought he made it. I enjoyed that, and I enjoyed playing with him.”
Huh will take two weeks off and let his masterful outing in the Masters sink in for a while.
“It was a really good experience playing this golf course,” Huh said. “I was striking the ball really good all tournament. If I was able to put the ball in early, if I had done good Friday, I would’ve been in better position.”
He finished well, and for a first-timer, that wasn’t bad at all.
Who do you have to win the Masters? I’ve got Angel Cabrera, whose already won two majors, including here at Augusta in 2009.
There’s just something about the Argentenian and the Masters. He’s fallen to No. 269 in the world rankings, but he rises to the occasion in majors.
The man nicknamed El Pato is co-leader after 54 holes. He’ll have to hold off Brandt Snedeker, three Australians and possibly Tiger Woods to win it.
Brandt Snedeker and Angel Cabrera are tied for the lead in the Masters at 7-under. Adam Scott is one shot back in third at 6-under and Jason Day and Marc Leishman are at 5-under. Day bogeyed the last two holes to fall from a share of the lead. Tiger Woods is in the mix as well, four shots behind the co-leaders after he shot a 2-under 70.
Was out at the first tee when Tiger Woods started his round this afternoon, and he was applauded when he walked out to the tee, and he was applauded after his first tee shot as well. He was wearing a blue shirt and smiled as he shook hands with officials there. One man yelled – “moving day” – as though the major controversy in the morning had never happened.