Bae Wins Futures Tour Title In a New Hampshire


Futures TourCONCORD, N.H. -- For those who have watched second-year player Kyeong Bae compete, there is no mistaking whose voice she hears most often. Bae's father, Chan Soo Bae -- a former professional soccer player for Spain's Real Madrid -- doubles as the player's caddie and van driver, as well as her biggest cheerleader and most outspoken critic.
Remarkably, young Bae has the calm ability to hear it all and remain largely unaffected by her demonstrative dad. But on Sunday morning, it was the quiet voice of her mother that pulled her daughter aside before the final round and delivered three words: Just trust yourself.
When the $65,000 Laconia Savings Bank Futures Golf Classic ended with a nail-biting finish, Kyeong Bae, 20, waved for her mother to join her in the trophy photo. Mi Ja Kim, a former world-class table tennis player, politely bowed, waved off her daughter, then finally dashed to the green for the photo. The family portrait was snapped and Kyeong Bae's second season win was complete.
'It was fantastic,' said Bae of Seoul, Korea, who fired a three-under-par final round of 69 to win by one shot at 209 (-7). 'My mom arrived [in the United States] four days ago and she gave me really great important thoughts for today.'
For most of the round, however, it was not Bae who led the charge at the 6,283-yard Beaver Meadow Golf Course. Compatriot Bo Mi Suh, also of Seoul, entered today's final round with a two-shot lead, which she maintained for most of her front nine. But Suh spent the day wrestling with her approach shots, carding a final-round 74 (+2) with only one birdie and three bogeys -- the last an untimely blunder that cost Suh the tournament.
Throughout the afternoon, players had moved in and out of the shared lead alongside Suh, who scrambled for pars and gambled for birdies on her back nine. By the time Suh reached her 14th hole, Bae, Kristy McPherson of Conway, S.C., and top-ranked Seon-Hwa Lee of Chonan, Korea all were deadlocked with Suh at seven under par. Lee bogeyed the 15th hole to fall out of the lead, then Bae later bogeyed the same hole to leave only Suh and McPherson tied at the top.
But bogeys on 16 and 17 knocked McPherson out of the lead, handing Suh the lead alone once again. McPherson drained a 12-foot birdie on the 18th, but it was little consolation for missed par putts from two feet and eight feet on two of her last three holes.
'Those three holes -- 16, 17 and 18 -- are good holes, but of course I'm disappointed to take two bogeys in that stretch,' said McPherson, who shot a final-round 69 to tie for second at 210 (-6). 'I guess if you miss a two-footer, you can bogey any of them.'
After Lee's birdie attempt on the 18th hole spun out of the cup, ending her last chance to join the leaders, the only player standing between Suh and her first Futures Tour win was Bae. And as expected, the quietly tenacious Bae birdied the 16th hole from 27 feet to once again draw even with Suh for the lead at seven under.
'My direction on my iron shots was not good all day today, but I still thought I could win,' said Suh, 24, now in her fourth Futures Tour season.
Suh patiently plodded along, then watched as Bae gave back a shot with a bogey on the 17th hole when she misread her three-foot par putt and dropped to six-under par for the tournament.
'That made me mad,' said Bae. 'I had no choice but to be aggressive on the last hole.'
Suh held a one-stroke lead when their final group arrived at the par-four 18th tee. But when Suh's drive sailed into the right trees, Bae saw her opening. She knew if she made birdie on the final hole, she could force a playoff. What she didn't anticipate was that Suh might not be able to scramble, as she had all day, on this last hole.
Suh had played a similar punch shot out of the woods earlier in the round on the 10th hole to save par, so she felt confident standing over her second shot. But when her punched 7-iron landed 85 yards short of the hole, Suh knew she had to hit her sand wedge close. She knocked her shot to three feet and marked her ball to wait for Bae's putt.
Seeing Suh's trouble in the right trees, Bae steered her drive down the left side of the fairway on 18 and hit her approach shot to within 27 feet of the hole -- the same distance she'd had two holes earlier with her birdie putt on No. 16.
'I told myself to just try to make a good stroke on 18 like I had done on 16 -- to not be greedy, but to just make a good stroke,' said Bae.
And good stroke it was, rolling uphill on a double-breaking line and falling into the hole for birdie. Now, Suh had to make her three-footer for par to join Bae in a sudden-death playoff. But Suh's par putt stayed left of the hole, giving Bae the win with the two-shot swing.
'She's a good player, but I was surprised that she made that putt [on the 18th hole],' said Suh, who settled into a tie for second with McPherson and Lee at 210 (-6). 'I felt more pressure to make mine.'
And with her winner's check for $9,100, the Lakeland, Florida-based Bae moved into the No. 2 position on the season money list behind Lee.
All it took were a few quiet words of encouragement from her mom earlier in the day. That, and a little trust in herself when she needed it most.