Date: July 14, 2009
Author:

LPGA – EUN HEE JI – BETHLEHEM’S SHINING STAR

(12 July 2009 – Bethlehem, Pennsylvania)

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South Korean Eun Hee Ji has returned to the winner&aposs circle by winning the 64th US Women&aposs Open with even par 284 (71,72,70, 71).  This was Ji&aposs first major championship with the winner&aposs cheque worth US$585,000 and her second LPGA Tour victory.  The win also allows her a 10=year exemption to the US Women&aposs Open and confirmed  entry into the Samsung World Championship.
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rnPaired in the final round with 2007 US Women’s Champion Cristie Kerr, who was two strokes ahead, Ji was up and down with birdies on holes 6 and 8 against bogeys on holes 2, 4 and 7.  With a double bogey on 10, Ji cleared her mind and said “Let’s go and play out the rest of the round”.  Ji then rallied off back to back birdies on holes 13 and 14.  At one point it was a four way tie for the lead with Ji, Kerr, Taiwan’s Candie Kung and South Korea &aposs In-Kyung Kim.  Kim moved to 2-over par 286 with a bogey on the final hole, Kung bogeyed hole 17 finishing at 1-over par, while Kerr dropped a shot on the 16th hole and finished the round at 2-over par and tied for 3rd with Kim. 
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rnJi landed her final approach shot of the day 12-feet from 18th hole.  A par would have meant a play off with Kung who was already on the putting green, a birdie would mean victory.  Ji attempted the latter and sank the birdie putt.  “Right before hitting the putt, I was nervous to the point where my hands were shaking, but I told myself to just make sure I saved the par,” said Ji.  “I know probably a lot of Americans who were here must have rooted for Cristie, but just to hear my country people, countrymen talk, say my name, chant out my name, was a huge boost for me today”
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rnIn form Australian Lindsey Wright claimed a Top-20 finish.  After her 3rd round which saw her tied for 27th, Wright moved up the leaderboard in the final round with a score of even par 71 and a tie for 17th, collecting a cheque for US$42,724.00.  Karrie Webb was the only other ALPG Member to make the cut, finishing in a tie for 34th while Rachel Hetherington and Katherine Hull missed the cut.
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rnSome interesting facts – There were 16 countries represented by 72 players making the cut.  67 was the low round of the tournament which was carded by Italy’s Giulia Sergas who tied for 52nd.  7 Amateurs made the cut.  America&aposs Julie Inkster made her 28th appearance.  Inkster has won this event twice – 1999 and 2002.

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Photo by Paul Melville – Eun Hee Ji