Trio earn major chance in U.S. Open

May. 30, 2013 @ 09:55 PM

A spot in the U.S. Women’s Open came down to three golfers playing for that one berth on one hole, No. 10 on the Lake Course at Carolina Trace Country Club, as twilight was fast approaching Thursday evening.

Christine Song, from Maryville, Tenn., played a textbook par four on the long, mostly uphill hole to make par and claim the third and final spot decided as Carolina Trace hosted a U.S. Open sectional qualifier for the fifth straight spring.

Song, with rounds of 72 and 75, tied with Nannette Hill, of Pelham Manor, N.Y., who shot 72 and 75 for her 36 holes Thursday, and amateur Lauren Stephenson, of Lexington, S.C., who was low amateur of the competition with rounds of 76 and 71.

While Stephenson made bogey and Hill made double bogey on their third time playing No. 10, Song split the fairway with her drive, played an iron onto the front fringe of the green, chipped nicely to a few feet from the cup, then held her nerves to hole the par putt for the right to play in the national championship.

Thailand’s Patcharajutar Kongkraphan was the lone golfer to go under par for the day as Carolina Trace’s Lake Course proved a challenge worthy of winnowing the field for a major tournament. The large scoreboard at the clubhouse had many scores in the 80s and 90s after the humid afternoon, slick greens and the tees set at just shy of 6,500 yards.

Kongkraphan shot 71 and 71 to finish at two-under par 142 and the medalist by four strokes.

Tiffany Tavee, from Tempe, Ariz., shot 76 and 70 to place second and qualify for the U.S. Open. Kongkraphan, Tavee and Song are all pro players.

“I played very well,” Kongkraphan said, “I was hitting my driver really well. I was making many of the fairways. I missed a couple short, three-foot putts out there, but I played well.”

Kongkraphan, who plays on the Symetra Tour, the LPGA’s equivalent to the PGA’s Tour, said the Lake Course was a wider course than most on the pro tour but the length was still a challenge. She made the U.S. Women’s Open in her first time trying to qualify.

“I played very consistent,” she said, “actually, the conditions were a lot like home (Thailand). It was very hot, so it felt like home.”

Hill and Stephenson have the alternate qualifying spots. Emilie Burger, of Hoschton, Ga., and Katelyn Dumbaugh, of North Charleston, S.C., shot 148.

Carolina Trace was one of 20 sectional qualifying venues for the U.S. Women’s Open, set for June 27-30 at Long Island, New York’s Sebonack Golf Club.