Amateur Choi: Runner-up means more than money


BEDMINSTER, N.J. – South Korea’s Hye-Jin Choi watched her bid to make history disappear in the pond aside the 16th green Sunday at the U.S. Women’s Open.

In the end, the 17-year-old amateur didn’t become the youngest player to win a women’s major.

She didn’t become the first amateur in 40 years to win the U.S. Women’s Open, either.

But what a brilliant show she put on trying.

“I get the runner-up, and it is unbelievably joyous for me,” she said.

Choi birdied the 15th hole, aside President Donald Trump’s private box, to gain a share of the lead with Sung Hyun Park, but Choi watched that good work come undone when her 7-iron sailed short and right into the water at the 16th.

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Choi made double bogey and ended up finishing solo second. She said the 7-iron wasn’t the right club.

“I was trying to squeeze that distance, and maybe that extra effort somehow ended up in the missed shot,” Choi said.

Choi’s second-place finish was nonetheless the most accomplished runner-up finish ever by an amateur in this championship. Her 9-under 279 total was the lowest by an amateur in the history of the U.S. Women’s Open. She beat the previous mark of 283 set by Grace Park in 1999.

Choi is the fourth amateur to finish solo second in the championship, the firs since Jenny Chuasiriporn in 1998, who memorably lost in a playoff to Se Ri Pak.

Choi is expected to turn pro later this year, but she said she wasn’t fretting leaving a $540,000 second-place finish on the table at Trump National.

“It would be nice if I could get the money, but I think my primary goal was to come here and compete,” she said. “So, to me, getting second place actually means more to me. It’s a greater honor for me. I am not really focusing on the prize money for now.”