WAPL Champion Memories: Tiffany Joh (2006, 2008)

Tiffany Joh is one of five players to have won the U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship twice. (USGA/Robert Walker)
By David Shefter, USGA
June 27, 2014

Tiffany Joh, of San Diego, is one of five golfers to have won the U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links twice, and is the last to achieve it. In 2006, Joh defeated Kimberly Kim, 6 and 5, at Walking Stick Golf Course in Pueblo, Colo., and two years later, she edged Jennifer Song, 2 and 1, in the final at Erin Hills in Erin, Wis. Joh, a member of the USA Teams for the 2008 Women’s World Amateur and Curtis Cup Match, was a two-time first-team All-American at UCLA. She was also the 2008 NCAA individual runner-up, losing a playoff to Azahara Munoz of Arizona State. Joh turned professional in 2009 and won two events on the Futures Tour. One of the most gregarious players on the LPGA Tour, Joh is currently in her fourth season on that circuit. Her best finish is a solo second to Lexi Thompson at the LPGA Navistar Classic in Alabama in 2011.

You had one of the finest championship-match performances in WAPL history in beating Kimberly Kim. You were 11 under par (with concessions) over the 31 holes, including an eagle 2. How good was that performance?

Kimberly Kim was just on fire that week. I think she beat Mina Harigae [in the quarterfinals] by like 8 and 7 [actually 9 and 7]. So I went into that round thinking I was the underdog. I didn’t think about how well I was playing at the time because I was just in a match-play mindset, which is just doing better than your opponent on one specific hole. I didn’t realize how well I was playing until I looked at the scorecard afterward and said, wow. But that’s the beauty of match play in that your game elevates to how well you need to play.

You were coming off a strong freshman season at UCLA, but hadn’t won an event. What did that win do for your career going forward?

It gave me loads of confidence. I played consistently that year, but I hadn’t really won anything. So I think a part of me felt that I was good enough to get a lot of top 10s in tournaments, but not enough to hold the hardware. For me, that [title] really kick-started my career. After that I realized I could win some big events.

Winning a USGA championship generally brings some perks. A few came your way after that 2006 WAPL triumph.

If you would have asked me right before I had played in the [2006] Public Links if I would get to play on a World Am Team, a Spirit [International] Team and a Curtis Cup Team, I would have probably slapped you in the face. It’s funny how things work out. Things like [the 2006 WAPL win] can lead to other bigger things.

At that 2006 WAPL, you wound up facing future UCLA teammate Mariajo Uribe (2007 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion), of Colombia, in the quarterfinals. Was there some recruiting going on?

That’s kind of how we first met. Right before the tournament started, Coach [Carrie Forsyth] had texted me and said, “Maria Jose Uribe is one of my top recruits and make sure you say hi to her and don’t embarrass the program.” And then I got paired against her. She jokes around to this day that I tricked her into losing. She said, “You were telling me all these jokes in Spanish and the next thing I know, I had lost. I knew your match-play strategy.” I told her it wasn’t on purpose.

Two years later, you produced a second WAPL title. Was it tougher the second time?

I think I was more surprised … just because in medal play (qualifying) I didn’t play particularly well. And the [final] match against Jen Song was really a squeaker. It wasn’t like when I played [Kimberly] Kim and after awhile I thought, if I just hold on, I have this in the bag. I thought the second one was a bit of a shock to me, but at the same time, I fought harder for it. [In 2006,] those [31] holes flew by so fast. The one against Jen Song, it felt like it took forever. By the time I finished that round, I was so tired. I felt like I had aged 10 years. And because of that, it means a little bit more to me.

How did winning those two WAPL titles and playing in big international competitions like the Curtis Cup and Women’s World Amateur help your transition into professional golf?

More than anything, it taught me how to deal with pressure. I don’t care what anyone says, there is no level of pressure that’s as high as playing for your country. I felt it at the Curtis Cup. I felt it at the World Am. That environment, especially when you are wearing the red, white and blue, I’ve never been as nervous as that. In my rookie year, I was in contention at the Navistar and I wasn’t nearly as nervous as I was when I was about to tee off in singles [on the Old Course at St. Andrews] playing against Carly Booth in the final round of the Curtis Cup.

What are your thoughts about the WAPL being retired?

A part of me was definitely really bummed about it. But at the same time, if you look at the field for the Public Links, it was kind of becoming identical to the Women’s Amateur. The same girls were playing, so their decision makes sense. In terms of the competition, [the two championships] felt really similar, but the courses were way different. But when you showed up and were warming up, you were doing so with [many of] the same people.

David Shefter is a senior staff writer with the USGA. Email him at dshefter@usga.org.

APL-WAPL Memories Home

Get The Rules of Golf App For Your iPhone Or Android Today
Follow the USGA
Become a Facebook Fan of the USGAFollow us on Twitter @USGA
World Amateur Golf Ranking
WAGR Counting Event
Partner Links
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image
AmEx image

The USGA and Chevron have committed to using the game of golf to encourage students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. This commitment has led to the creation of extensive golf-focused STEM teaching tools, and has resulted in charitable contributions to support golf-related programs through Eagles for Education™

At U.S. Open Championships the Chevron STEM ZONE™ is an interactive experience highlighting the science and math behind the game of golf through a variety of hands-on exhibits and experiments.

The partnership has also produced educational materials such as the Science of Golf video series and a nationally-distributed newspaper insert which are provided to teachers as tools to enhance existing curriculum in schools. These lessons teach the science behind the USGA’s equipment testing, handicapping, and agronomy efforts.

For more interactive experiences featuring golf-focused STEM lessons, visit the partnership homepage.

Chevron image

Rolex has been a longtime supporter of the USGA and salutes the sportsmanship and great traditions unique to the game. This support includes the Rules of Golf where Rolex has partnered with the USGA to ensure golfers understand and appreciate the game.

As the official timekeeper of the USGA and its championships, they also provide clocks throughout host sites for spectator convenience.

For more information on Rolex and their celebration of the game, visit the Rolex and Golf homepage.

Rolex image

IBM has partnered with the USGA to bring the same technology, expertise, and innovation it provides to businesses all over the world to the USGA and golf's national championship.

IBM provides the information technology to develop and host the U.S. Open’s official website, www.usopen.com, as well as the mobile apps and scoring systems for the three U.S. Open championships. These real-time technology solutions provide an enhanced experience for fans following the championship onsite and online.

For more information on IBM and the technology that powers the U.S. Open and businesses worldwide, visit http://www.usopen.com/IBM

AmEx image

Lexus is committed to partnering with the USGA to deliver a best-in-class experience for the world’s best golfers by providing a fleet of courtesy luxury vehicles for all USGA Championships.

At each U.S. Open, Women’s Open and Senior Open, Lexus provides spectators with access to unique experiences ranging from the opportunity to have a picture taken with both the U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open trophies to autograph signings with legendary Lexus Golf Ambassadors in the Lexus Performance Drive Pavilion.

For more information on Lexus, visit http://www.lexus.com/

AmEx image
American Express

Together, American Express and the USGA have been providing world-class service to golf fans since 2006. By creating interactive U.S. Open experiences both onsite and online, American Express enhances the USGA’s effort to make the game more accessible and enjoyable for fans.

For more information on American Express visit www.americanexpress.com/entertainment

AmEx image