Home feel helps push Katie Lee into the round of 64 at Public Links

Staff writerJuly 15, 2014 


    At the Home Course, DuPont

    Tuesday, stroke play (2nd round)

    Leader: Eun Jeong Seong, Republic of Korea — 8-under par 64

    Highlights: What a difference a year can make. Seong, who missed the cut for the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championships in 2013, played a flawless second round of golf at the United States Golf Association national championship, shooting 64 on Tuesday with six birdies on the back nine. Along with her eight total birdies, Seong also tallied 10 pars. Seong holds the top spot in the standings with 134 strokes through 36 holes. It is only the second time Seong has competed in the USGA and her first time competing in match play in her career. … The three-way tie for second place is a battle of of the west coast. Californians Gabriella Then and Alana Uriell, and Oregonian Caroline Inglis sit four strokes behind Seong in the standings at 138 strokes.

    Quotable: “Yesterday, my driver was so bad, but today it was so good. I didn’t have a bogey.” — Eun Jeong Seong said through translator and fellow competitor Yeji Shin.

    How locals fared: Elma’s Alexis Keating and Silverdale’s Katie Lee both advanced to the round of 64 matches after shooting 71 in the second round. Keating is tied for 33rd while Lee is tied for 50th. Federal Way’s Kendall Gray shot an 82 and finished 150th.

    Cool to know: Seong’s 8-under-par 64 broke the lowest 18-hole and 36-hole championship records Tuesday, beating the previous mark of 65 held by Brittany Lang at the 2004 championship. Seong’s two-day total of 10-under 134 broke the previous record of 135 held by Lang in 2004 and Ariya Jutanugarn at the 2010 championship. Lang and Jutanugarn are currently professional golfers in the Ladies Professional Golf Association and Ladies European Tour, respectively.

    Live scoring:

    Next: Round of 64 matches, first round, starting Wed., July 16 at 8:30 a.m.


    Vinnie Murphy, a Puyallup High School graduate who signed with Coastal Carolina, made the match play in dramatic fashion at the U.S. Amateur Public Links at Sand Creek Station Golf Course in Newton, Kansas.

    In an 11-player-for-seven-spots sudden death playoff, Murphy earned the No. 62 seed when he holed out from 90 yards with a wedge for eagle on the first hole.

    Murphy finished the two rounds of stroke play at 5-over 147. He will face Byron Meth, of San Diego, in the round of 64 in match play.

Katie Lee stood on the driving range with a 3-wood in her hands hitting the same shot over and over again.

A 200-yard rainbow, with just a little fade at the end.

But still, she wasn’t happy.

“It’s just off,” she said.

Lee was half an hour away from teeing off in the second round of the 38th and last U.S. Women’s Public Links Championship. The 18-year old lives in Silverdale, just 50 miles north of The Home Course in DuPont, where the championships are being held. She and her sister, Erynne, both go to UCLA, where Katie will serve as the golf team manager next fall.

But Silverdale is home, and being so close to home adds even more pressure than usual to a national championship.

“I try not to let the pressure get to me,” she said. “But it’s there. A lot of people talk to me, wishing me luck and telling me I should make the cut, which I might not. It’s a lot of pressure.”

Despite efforts, the pressure got to Lee in her first round, at least at the beginning. Her caddie, Spencer Jacobsen, said it was clear Lee’s game wasn’t at it’s best. Her fade was turning into a hook, and she was leaving putts short.

“She wasn’t feeling too good,” he said. “Everything was starting to go to the right on the practice range, and when we went out to the course, it stuck around.”

She shot four-over par 76 on Monday, just one stroke below the projected cut-line of five-over. On the bubble after the first round, she and Jacobsen looked at her swing and tried to correct a few problems.

But deep down, they knew it was mostly a case of nerves.

“We have similar problems in our swing,” he said. “And with the pressure, those problems kind of came out. But we talked after the round and started to get things straightened out.”

Lee did have one advantage she hoped would help her play better on Tuesday: an intimate knowledge of the course. She estimates she’s played The Home Course over 20 times in her life, and knows it well from various USGA qualifiers and high school tournaments.

“It was set up pretty tough for this tournament,” she said. “But I’ve been playing this course for so long, it suits my eyes. Up until this week, it didn’t really sink in that this was the U.S. Amateur Pub Links, it just felt like a normal tournament because I’m so familiar with it.”

Lee is one of seven Washington golfers competing in the championships. Two other local golfers are playing in the championships: Kendall Gray, of Federal Way, and Alexis Keating, of Elma.

Gray shot 85 on Monday and 82 on Tuesday for a two-round score of 167, which landed her out of contention to move into match play, while Keating shot one-under par 71 on Tuesday to finish tied for 30th, well below the cut line.

Being near home wasn’t enough to save Gray. But it came in handy for Lee when she set out Tuesday. Lee birdied two of the first three holes, before running into trouble on hole No. 13. An errant second shot led to a double-bogey six on the par four.

That shot put her at one over par.

“I hit it right, and just had to rescue myself,” she said. “I played a lot of rescue golf today.”

Birdies on 16 and 18, however, sealed the deal. A final score of 71 gave Lee a two-day total of 147. The cut line was 149.

“I’m just so relieved,” she said. “I can’t even think right now. I was forgetting to breathe after I doubled (the 13th), and Spencer told me to just calm down and hit it straight, and that’s what I did.”

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