Min wins playoff, moves to match play
By KEVIN JAKAHI
Tribune-Herald sports writer
Recent Waiakea graduate Ciera Min shot a 78 in the second round of the Women’s Amateur Public Links Championships on Tuesday for an 8-over-par, two-day 152 total, which was one shot above the projected cut.
But the United State Golf Association’s website, usga.org, amended her round to a 7-over 79, putting her in a playoff at the Jimmie Austin Oklahoma University Golf Club in Norman, Okla., to advance to match play.
There are on-course followers who update the live scoring for the website, but the scores are not official until the golfers sign in.
In any case, Min was in a playoff group of 10 competing for six spots, starting on the par 4, 312-yard 10th hole.
Everyone who made par or birdie got in. Min made par. She also produced par in the first and second rounds.
“My second shot was 60 yards out and I hit it on the green and it ran. I two-putted for par,” said Min, sounding weary from her cellphone after a long day. “It was a stressful round. I shot 79, obviously not the worst score. But on Monday I was not hitting, but putting strong (for a 2-over 74). Today, I had seven putts lip out or burn the edges. It was getting really frustrating. I struggled today.”
But Min was still good enough to advance to match play. That’s the good news. The bad news is she’ll face No. 1 seed Annie Park, a soon-to-be sophomore at USC.
In her freshman season, Park shined with brilliance, pocketing the NCAA Women’s Individual Championship by six strokes. Her season stroke average of 71.36 broke the school record.
At the WAPL, Park was a model of consistency, firing a 4-under 68 in both rounds. It’ll be favorite vs. underdog for Min, who looks forward to 18 rounds of match play, in which a player earns a point for each winning hole.
“I’m excited. You want to shoot good in stroke play to make it to match play,” Min said. “It’s a goal you have and you want to get into match play from the start. I putted out last, so I’ll be the last seed. I know Annie and I’m looking forward to the match. She’s one of the top golfers in college. It’ll be fun.”
Min, who’s headed to Gonzaga on a golf scholarship, had eight bogeys, including one on the 18th. She had two birdies during the second round at the 6,287-yard course, which is home to Oklahoma University.
In the first round on Monday, Min collected four birdies and had five bogeys for a 74. Perhaps most impressive was that three of her birdies came on par 5s, the 523-yard fifth hole, the 466-yard 13th and the 548-yard 18th, showing her length and shot-shaping ability to conquer distance and doglegs.
Nani Yanagi, a 2012 Waiakea graduate and upcoming Washington State sophomore, tied for 132nd with a 19-over 81-82—163 total, missing the cut. She immediately pointed to silver linings and soaking up lessons.
“It was a little rough. I made good shots, but I couldn’t sink putts when I wanted or needed to,” she said. “Overall it was a good experience. I got to play with Kelly Shon. She’s from Princeton and one of the top golfers in the nation. I learned a lot from her. She’s really fit and the way she carried herself through the golf course. She’s very mature.
“My college coach (Kelli Kamimura) followed me. She came down to recruit and our upcoming freshman, Cherokee Kim, played here as well. I got to know her and our coach watched the both of us. I’ve been working hard this summer trying to improve my game. I’m improved a bit, especially my hitting. But I’ve got a lot more to improve, like my short game. I’ve got to work on those things.”
Shon, a senior-to-be at the Ivy League school, tied for seventh at the WAPL in stroke play. She shot a 2-over 70-74—144 total. In May, she tied for 37th at the NCAA women’s golf championship.
Yanagi said Kim’s first name is legally Cherokee, noting she was told her teammate’s parents wanted a unique name. Kim, who’s from Dupont, Wash., tied for 134th with a 20-over 78-86—164 total.
Oahu’s Mariel Galdiano tied for fourth at 2-under 69-73—142. Park, from Levittown, N.Y., and Doris Chen, from Bradenton, Fla., tied for first at 8-under 136.
Galdiano, a soon-to-be Punahou sophomore, won the Hawaii High School Athletic Association state championship by seven strokes over Min. As a 12-year-old in 2011, Galdiano qualified as one of the youngest golfers for the U.S. Women’s Open.
Michelle Wie was 13 years old when she qualified for the U.S. Open in 2003. That year she also captured the WAPL, becoming the youngest champion at 13 to win a USGA event, male or female.
It’s the second-to-last year of the WAPL. The USGA will retire the WAPL and the APL, which will be held July 15-20 in Virginia, after the 2014 season. Hilo’s Chris Igawa and Dalen Yamauchi will represent the Hilo section.
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