By Ken MacLeod Yujeong Son became the youngest winner of the Women’s Oklahoma Golf Association State Amateur Championship with a 4 and 3 victory over Baylee Price of Broken Arrow Thursday at rain-soaked Cedar Ridge Country Club in Broken Arrow.
Son, 13, is two years younger than the previous youngest, Teresa Weinshelbaum of Ponce City, who won in 1970 at age 15. Son was coming off a seven-shot victory in the WOGA Girls Junior Championship last week at Quail Creek Country Club in Oklahoma City, an event in which she shot 7-under par for 36 holes.
Son showed a deft short game, making pars relentlessly while Price was struggling with her chipping on the front nine and then, after her ballstriking improved markedly on the back nine, with leaving potential birdie or par putts short.
The young champion practices at least six hours daily in the summer at the Jimmie Austin University of Oklahoma Golf Course in Norman. During the school season, she can often be found on the putting greens at sunrise before school before returning for a few hours in the evening.
"I’m really excited, really proud of myself," Son said. "Baylee played great too. On the back nine, she was hitting perfect iron shots. I just told myself to keep making pars. Just to play one shot at a time like I do every day in practice."
The first nine holes were played in a steady rain and Price said that may have thrown her off a bit. She was leaving most of her approach shots short, chipping to the 5-foot range and missing par putts. She bogeyed five holes on the front while winning just the par-3 sixth hole, where she hit a gorgeous shot from 173 yards to about 3 feet and converted the birdie.
Four down at the turn, Price began to play solid golf and left herself makeable birdie putts inside 10 feet on holes 10, 11 and 12, but failed to convert all three. She did win 12 when Son made just her second bogey of the day, and when she put the ball in the middle of the green on the long par-3 13th hole, it seemed she might pull even closer. Son’s tee shot was short and in a wet area in a bunker, but she blasted out to 3 feet and converted the par putt. Son closed it out two holes later after Price three-putted both 14 and 15 for bogeys.
"I just thought about my practice bunkers at Jimmie Austin," Son said. "I told myself to look where you want to land it and hit it softly."
Son, whose long-term goal is "to play on the LPGA Tour and win majors, but it’s too soon to worry about that," is a first-alternate for the U.S. Girls Junior Championship July 21-26 at Forest Highlands in Flagstaff, Ariz.
Price is coming off a sterling freshman season at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah. She won the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association championship, finished fourth in regional play and advanced to the NAIA Naitonal Chamionship as an individual, where she finished tied for 23rd. She finished top-10 in the majority of her tournaments.
"It was frustrating today," Price said. "Her short game was on point and my putting was just not on. I knew the greens were gong to be slow and I just kept leaving them short anyway. I had chances. I could have tied it up early on the back nine if I could have made any putts."
Son is the third player to win the WOGA Junior and WOGA State Amateur in the same year. The others were LPGA great Betsy Cullen in 1954 and Linda Brown in 1978.
Jimmie Austin PGA Professional Johnny Johnson works with Son, although she gets most of her instruction from her father. Johnson said her dedication to the game is tremendous and the long hours she puts in are of her choosing.
"It’s what she wants to do," Johnson said. "I originally thought she might get burned out but now she’s doing a lot of it on her own. It’s not like mom and dad are out there making her do it. She doesn’t want to do anything different."
"She’s a very smart girl and doesn’t seem to get upset very much. As she’s getting bigger, she started to hit it a lot farther."
"She’s very dedicated and works hard," said her mother Mija Son, who is taking classes at the University of Oklahoma. "She wants to do this."
The Son’s moved from South Korea to Oklahoma in 2006 and Yujeong took up the game at age nine in 2010.
WOGA State Amateur Championship
Cedar Ridge CC-Broken Arrow
Match Play Results
Round — (Final)
Yujeong Son, Norman, Oklahoma def. Baylee Price, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma 4 and 3
Lauren Michael, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma def. Nadia Majidizadeh, Tulsa, Okla. 3 and 2
Laurie MakesCry, Oklahoma City, Okla. def. Kathy West, Tulsa, Okla. 3 and 2
Kaylee Brooke Neff, Yukon, Oklahoma def. Julia Dierker, Bixby, Okla. 2 and 1
Taylor Arnold, Pryor, Okla. def. Paula R Vinzetta, Canadian, Okla. 6 and 5
A Flight Consolation
Dana L Hurley, Tulsa, Okla. def. Tammy Fairchild, Tulsa, Okla. 2 and 1
Linda Cacy, Broken Arrow, Okla. def. Elaine Davis, Edmond, Okla. 4 and 3
B flight Consolation
Carolyn Mericle, Sand Springs, Okla. def. Julie Yeabower, Tulsa, Okla. 5 and 4
Carolyn Martin, Stillwater, Okla. def. Marge Harvey, Bartlesville, Okla. 5 and 4
C Flight Consolation
Kaye Pickering, Tulsa, Okla def. Coleen Hazelwood, Broken Arrow, Okla. 1 up
Patti McKinnon, Oklahoma City, Okla. def. LaDonna Zeiders, Edmond, Oklahoma 1 up
D flight Consolation
Marilyn Buland, Tulsa, Okla. def. Leigh Ann Veneziano, Lawton, Okla. 2 and 1
Rose Whatley, Ardmore, Okla. def. Sue Meiler, Barnsdall, Okla. 7 and 6
E Flight Consolation
Ann Fields, Tulsa, Oklahoma def. Misty Greeson, Bartlesville, Okla. 2 and 1
Shirley Cooper, Walters, Okla. def. Kay Graves, Morrison, Oklahoma 3 and 1
F Flight Consolation
Nadine Lewis, Oklahoma City, Okla. def. Patsy Heldmar, Broken Arrow, Okla. By Default