KOHLER, Wis. — Na Yeon Choi was cruising to victory in the U.S. Women’s Open when her trademark consistency suddenly deserted her.
After yanking her tee shot into the woods on the 10th hole, Choi wound up making a triple-bogey — cutting her lead over playing partner Amy Yang from five to two strokes.
“That moment, maybe I thought I might screw up today,” Choi said. “But I thought I needed to fix that. I can do it. So I tried to think what I have to do.”
Choi birdied the next hole, danced around a few more potential pitfalls on the back nine and went on to win by four strokes Sunday at Blackwolf Run.
It’s the first major and sixth career LPGA Tour victory for the 24-year-old South Korean star, who came into the tournament ranked fifth in the world.
Choi shot a 1-over 73 on Sunday and finished at 7 under. Yang, also from South Korea, had a 71 to finish second.
Choi’s victory comes at the same course where Se Ri Pak won the Open in 1998, a victory that inspired Choi and many other young South Koreans to try to make it on the women’s tour.
“And 14 years later I’m here right now, and I made it,” Choi said. “My dreams come true. It’s an amazing day today, and like I really appreciate what Se Ri did and all the Korean players, they did. It’s really no way I can be here without them.”
Pak was among a group of friends who met Choi after she putted out on the 18th green, showering her with hugs — and victory champagne.