Go to contents

Let’s Go See the Female Woods

Posted July. 05, 2004 22:26,   


“The biggest paid gallery (118,458) in tournament history.”

The importance of a star player was proven in the 59th U.S. Women’s Open Championship (total purse $3.1 million).

The prediction of the United States Golf Association (USGA) has come true. They took the drastic measure of allowing amateur player Michelle Wie (age 14, Korean name: Wie Sung-mi) a special exemption into the U.S. Women’s Open Championship for a box-office star.

The attendance in this year’s gallery broke the record set in 1998 when Pak Se-ri (CJ) won the Open with her “barefooted fighting spirit.” It was regarded to be the best Open in history, and its gallery attendance reached 116,000. Considering that the championship took five days (including an extended 18 hole game) in 1998, they surely hit the jackpot in their box-office record this year.

In the final 4th round at the Orchards Golf Club, South Hadley, Mass. (par 71), veteran Meg Mallon (age 41, U.S.A.) scored a 6 under 65 and scored 10 under 274 overall. She overtook Jennifer Rosales (Philippines) who started the round as a leader by 3 shots and later destroyed herself with a 4 over 75 that day. Mallon forced Rosales down to 4th place (3 under 281) and made a come-from-behind victory.

Mallon, who has won the U.S. Women’s Open Championship twice in her life since 1991, was born in Massachusetts. Encouraged by home ground fans, Mallon said, “The hole cup seemed as big as a bucket. That round will be unforgettable for me,” while showing her exultation from the victory.

Mallon made three new records in the championship: minimum shots in the final round among the U.S. Women’s Open winners, the longest period taken for regaining the title, and the biggest prize ($560,000) for a single tournament on the U.S. LPGA tour.

Mallon also established a record for winning her last six victories, among a total of 16 victories in her career, as come-from-behind ones.

On the other hand, Michelle Wie (1 over 285) shared 13th place with her rival Paula Creamer (age 17, U.S.A.). It was the first place record for amateurs. This allowed her an automatic spot in next year’s championship since those who finish in the top 20 automatically qualify, and blew off the argument over her special exemption to play in this year’s tournament.

After the game, Michelle Wie showed her high-spirited attitude, saying, “I hoped for the victory, not first place among amateurs. I am sorry for not having won the championship, but happy for having shown that I am enough qualified to be in the game.”

Among the 24 Korean players, the “Korean corps,” who participated, Jang Jeong, the “Ultra Peanut,” scored a 5 under 66 in the final round and ranked highest among them with a finish in 7th place (1 under 283).

Young-Sik Ahn ysahn@donga.com