Moon Rises In New York


Futures TourSYRACUSE, N.Y. -- For a small-town teen, South Koreas Soo Young Moon thinks she has done a pretty good job of representing her homeland. And by the time her quickly moving golf career is complete, this native of Keumsan, Korea may become as big as the product that comes from the soil of her youth.
Keumsan is two and half hours south of Seoul and has 10,000 residents. It is best known for the Korean ginseng it grows and produces for worldwide consumption.
'Ginseng is very big there,' said Moon, 19, who doesnt use the energy supplement.
But the towns first girl golfer is well on her way to becoming a big deal in the game she plays. She won her second professional tournament in Sundays final round of the M&T Bank Loretto Futures Golf Classic with a 69 and a one-shot win over runner-up Stacy Prammanasudh of Enid, Okla. Moon finished at 6-under 207 to edge out Prammanasudh at 208, and third-place finisher Chiharu Yamaguchi of Tochigi, Japan at 209 (-4).
'Im happy,' said Moon, who has seven top-10 finishes in her first Futures Tour season and who moved into the No. 2 position on the Tours money list after 13 tournaments. 'I won today, thanks to my dad. He reads my putts.'
Of course, Moon could also thank the clouds, the rain and the lightning that suspended play for 30 minutes during the final round at The Links at Erie Village. From 3:26 to 4:06 PM, players huddled in the clubhouse, waiting for a storm to pass. Prammanasudh ate an apple and relaxed. Moon talked to her father, Sun Chul Moon, during the delay about how she could trim Prammanasudhs four-shot lead.
The rest had everything to do with Mother Nature. When play resumed after the half-hour wait, the leaders group of Moon, Prammanasudh and Seol-An Jeon of Seoul, Korea, returned to the 13th hole ' a 155-yard par 3. Prammanasudh had played the front nine at 3 under, then birdied the 10th with a three footer to build her lead to four shots. She had no reason to believe the bunker shot she had returned to after the delay would pose any problem.
But the Oklahomans bunker shot sailed over the green. A chip and two putts later, with a double-bogey-5 on the hole, she held only a two-stroke cushion over Moon. Moon, playing steadily, was waiting for something to happen.
And it did. Again. Prammanasudhs 7-iron approach on 14 from out of a divot missed the green short. A chip and two putts later from five feet, Prammanasudh had lost another shot. She stood at 6 under for the tournament and Moon was 5-under par.
'I guess the rain delay took away a little bit of my steam,' said Prammanasudh, who stayed in the No. 1 spot on the Tours money list with her ninth top-10 finish. 'It started with the bunker on 13. The sand was packed pretty hard after the rain and it was a lot firmer under the ball than I anticipated. Then, I didnt get up and down on the 14th.'
Prammanasudh didnt panic, but the leader board took a dramatic turn on the 16th hole when Moon rolled in a 15-foot putt for birdie and the Thai-Americans 84-yard sand wedge sailed over the green, setting her up for another bogey. Moon took the lead at 16, which she never relinquished.
'I thought, Maybe I can win, but I know that shes a good player and she wouldnt give up,' said Moon, normally emotionless, who managed a little fist pump when her birdie putt dropped at the 16th.
Conversely, Prammanasudh walked away from the hole scratching her head, wondering how she flew the green with perfect yardage for her sand wedge. She and her caddie father, Pravat Prammanasudh, also buzzed about what she needed to do in the next two holes to grab this tournament back from the talented Korean teen.
'Soo Young played steady all day and she made three or four good putts coming into the last few holes,' said Prammanasudh, a non-exempt member of the LPGA Tour. 'She doesnt make many mistakes.'
The Oklahoman had a birdie chance that narrowly missed from 12 feet on the 17th and her 16-foot birdie effort on the last hole missed by a foot to the left of the cup.
Once Jeon began losing shots on the back nine, the day was nearly a match-play endurance exercise between Moon and Prammanasudh. The rest of the field was playing for third. Jeon, still seeking her first professional win, lost 10 shots on the back nine and ballooned into a tie for 24th with an inexplicable final-round 78. All she could do was smile, shake her head and walk off with her hands on her hips.
But while some established players were leaking shots all over the tight, waterlined 6,089-yard, par-71 course, others were making a run for it. Japans Yamaguchi, playing in her first Futures Tour season, posted her best round this year and cruised in at 4-under 209 for third. A three-year player on Japans LPGA, she tallied 24 total putts, which included 12 one-putt greens.
Tracy Cone of Richmond, Calif., matched the days low round of 67 to sneak into a tie for fourth at 210, alongside former LPGA Tour member Carmen Hajjar of Ballina, Australia (69), and Jennifer Huber of Dallas (70). Kristen Bloomer of Moberly, Mo., also carded a 67 to move from a tie for 58th into a tie for 22nd at 215.
Reilley Rankin of Hilton Head Island, S.C., matched final-round 68s with her pairing partners Lisa Hall of Stoke-on-Trent, England and Isabelle Beisiegel of Norman, Okla. The trio tied Candy Hannemann of Rio de Janiero, Brazil for seventh place at 211.
But it was Moon who rose from the field as this weeks winner. She had opened the Futures Tour season with the first win of the year and had been close to contention in practically every week that followed. An automobile accident at the Wisconsin tournament in late May knocked her out of two events as she healed from injuries. Then she scraped up enough money to replace her totaled van to continue her Futures Tour journey with her father and her mother (Young Hee Moon). She was a long way from Keumsan and from the days when her father, who taught her to play, scolded her for 'wrong play' and upset her with his high expectations.
'Today he says I did a good job and I am happy,' said Moon, who has had two runner-up finishes this year. 'It has been a long time since I won.'
And for Keumsans latest home-grown product, Moon hopes her big dreams are slowly rising.
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - M&T Bank Loretto Golf Classic