Posted by: happyfan08 | January 18, 2010

2009 Awards (6 of 12): Clutch Performance of the Year

Clutch Performance of the Year

And the Winner Is: Jennifer Song, US Women’s Amateur

Jennifer Song

 In some ways, you could say that Jennifer Song’s entire 2009 season was clutch (and who knows, we might just get back to that later…).  But in particular, she had a lot riding on winning the 2009 US Women’s Amateur, even beyond the fact that it was one of the top tournaments, if not the very top event, in all of women’s amateur golf.  She had already won the US Women’s Pub Links earlier in the season; if she could win the Amateur as well, she would become only the second woman in history to win both events in the same year. 

It would not be easy, as you can imagine, but Song relentlessly worked her way through the field, making it to the finals.  There she met a player named Jennifer Johnson, who had managed to make it all the way to the finals without once trailing in any match.  If Song were going to win their 36 hole match, she would have to change that statistic.

Jennifer Song at the Women's Amateur

Johnson continued her excellent play in the morning 18 holes, carving a four up lead after just ten holes.  But Song’s dad, who was also acting as her caddie, gave her encouragement to keep her in the match.  He kept telling her that she would win, she just needed to stay positive.  Song won the 11th and 12th holes, and eventually squared the match on the 18th hole.

In the afternoon, Song finally ended Johnson’s streak by birdieing the 19th and 20th holes to go 2 up.  When Johnson bogied the 27th hole, Song’s lead was three.

But just when it looked like Song had things in the bag, Johnson rallied.  She won three of the next four holes and once again, the match was all square.  Song showed just how clutch she is by winning the 33rd hole with a birdie, then draining a 6 foot birdie on the 34th hole to go two up.  Johnson failed to get up and down on the next hole, and the championship was Song’s.

Jennifer Song with her Women's Amateur trophy

Jennifer Song will stay an amateur for the near term, so watch carefully in 2010 to see if she can continue her great play!

Other Nominees:

Ji Young Oh wins her second tournament at Sybase;

Ji Young Oh’s first win involved a little bit of luck; Michelle Wie, you may recall, was disqualified when she failed to sign her scorecard, and Ya Ni Tseng made some mistakes that gave Oh the win.  Oh had also battled with her nerves much of that day.  What a difference a year makes!  At this year’s Sybase, Oh was confident, playing brilliantly while all her foes made mistakes.  She wound up claiming a four shot win.

Na Yeon Choi rallies after losing seven shot lead in Samsung

Na Yeon Choi looked like she would finally get her first LPGA win easily at this year’s Samsung Championship; at one point on the back nine on Sunday, she had a 7 shot lead.  But Ai Miyazato rallied, Choi made a few mistakes, and the lead quickly evaporated.  Choi was forced to make several clutch par saves down the stretch to stay in it.  Now one shot in the lead, Miyazato hit her second shot into the water on the 18th hole, giving Choi another chance.  She took it, hitting her own second shot just short of the green, then sinking a five foot birdie putt for the win.

Shin hunts down leaders at HSBC to get first official win

Jiyai Shin at the HSBC

After three rounds at the HSBC Ladies Champions, it did not seem like Jiyai Shin would be in the hunt for the title.  She found herself 6 shots back of the leaders.  She did have an impressive 66 on Saturday, but that did little to lessen the distance between herself and the leader Catherine Hull and top American star Angela Stanford, who was second.

But on Sunday, Shin started with four straight birdies to immediately close the gap to a few shots.  Hull regrouped, increasing the lead to four, but on the back nine started to make mistakes while Shin kept on pounding her.  Shin hit the flag on 17 and narrowly missed birdie, and Hull made birdie to close back to within one shot.  It was not over yet.

No worries.  Shin cruised on the 18th hole, while Hull hit her drive into the woods, ending her chances of beating Jiyai.

Best Stretch of Holes

And The Winner Is: Eun Hee Ji’s back nine at the Women’s Open

No stretch of holes in 2009 was more clutch than the final 8 holes Ji played at the US Women’s Open.  To come back from a double bogey that could have destroyed her, and make a 20 foot birdie on the final hole to win outright, was a brilliant achievement.  Along the way she had two other impressive birdies.

Other Nominees:

In Kyung Kim, round 2, Michelob Ultra (63)

Eunjung Yi, third round, Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic (61).

Jiyai Shin, first four holes final round at HSBC Ladies Champions

Most Dominating Performance

And the Winner Is: Hee Kyung Seo in Majors

Hee Kyung Seo wins her third Major of 2009

Hee Kyung Seo had a tough act to follow when she tried to become the top player on the KLPGA in 2009.  Jiyai Shin had won 9 events on tour in 2007, and swept all three Majors in 2008.  But Seo proved to be just as tough as Shin in the end.  In 2009, there were now four Majors on the KLPGA, and Seo was a big factor in every one of them.  She came from behind at the year’s first Major, the Korean Women’s Open, shooting a scintillating 66 to catch and pass Bo Mi Lee for the win.  She was not able to take down Jung Eun Lee at the second Major, the Shinsegae KLPGA Championship, although she did claim second place there.  But at the third Major, the Hite Cup, she outlasted her friend Ran Hong in the final round to capture an easy 5 shot win, and in the year’s fourth Major, she outdueled tough amateur Hana Jang in a tense battle that went all the way to the final hole.  In all, Seo had three wins and one second place in four Majors.  One thing is for sure.  The next time a KLPGA player sees Seo on a leader board in a Major, she is going to be very afraid indeed!

Other Nominees:

Jiyai Shin at Wegman’s

Jiyai Shin with her Wegman's trophy

Jiyai Shin had three wins on the LPGA tour in 2009, but by far her most dominating victory came at the Wegman’s LPGA event in Rochester.  Before the event started, she saw the trophy sitting in its case, and jokingly told it she would see it on Sunday.  She started with a bang, shooting a 65, then took the lead in round two.  In round three she kept up the assault, shooting a 67 to take a four shot lead.  The final round was academic.  Although she only shot a 71, she increased her lead, finishing with a seven shot drubbing of the field for her second win of the year and fifth of her short LPGA career.

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