Jennifer Song, then 19, of Ann Arbor, Mich., won the 2009 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links Championship with a 7-and-6 victory over Kimberly Kim, 17, of Hilo, Hawaii, at Red Tail Golf Club in Devens, Mass. Song, a rising sophomore at the University of Southern California, had finished as the runner-up in 2008. But 2009 proved to be a big year for Song, who joined Pearl Sinn (1988) as the only players to win the WAPL and U.S. Women’s Amateur in the same year. Song was also the individual runner-up at the 2009 NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Championship and was the low amateur at the U.S. Women’s Open. After helping lead the USA to victory at the 2010 Curtis Cup Match, Song turned professional and posted two wins on the LPGA’s developmental Futures Tour – including her pro debut – and earned LPGA Tour membership in 2011, where she is a current member.
What did winning the WAPL mean to you?
It was just a memorable moment for me and a big confidence boost. Actually, I felt way better because I lost to Kimberly Kim in my first U.S. Women’s Amateur. Beating her by 7 and 6 was just so relieving. I was very heartbroken because I had played great in the U.S. Women’s Am when I lost to Kim, but when I was going into the final match with her at the 2009 Public Links, I told myself, “You’ve lost once, so you’re not going to lose again.” Even though I was pretty high up in the match, I told myself that I was not going to let her get away this time.
Did finishing as the runner-up at the 2008 WAPL give you more incentive when you went into the 2009 championship?
Yes, definitely. I lost to Tiffany Joh the year prior, and again, I was very heartbroken. At that time, it was very hard on me, but I knew that failure was only going to make me stronger. The following year, I prepared myself harder for the Public Links.
What is your most vivid memory from that championship week?
I don’t quite remember the hole, but I hit my tee shot into the left bunker and I had to lay up. I had to make an up and down from a 100-yard shot and I flushed it and made a par there. It just kept my momentum going. There were streaks of birdies. It’s quite a few years back, so it’s hard to remember every detail. But I also remember the last putt when I made par to win the championship. I got goosebumps all over my body. It was so surreal. I couldn’t believe it. It was a long week and [the win] was putting that exclamation mark on it when I made that putt. Everything just felt so good.
Was it the championship match that stands out in your memory?
It was definitely the championship match. Kim had her best game and I had my best game, so we were both making birdies. I was very focused, but at the same time it was very stressful. I never knew what she was going to do, so I had to keep playing my best out there.
How was your win at the U.S. Women’s Amateur later that summer over Jennifer Johnson in the championship match different from your WAPL victory?
They are both very prestigious championships and they both are championships that all amateurs want to win, but the Women’s Am is bigger than the Public Links. Everybody in the nation wants to come out and prove they are the best amateur and all the best amateurs in the world are in one place to compete for the win. It’s definitely a major amateur championship.
Did winning the 2009 WAPL help prepare you for the Women’s Amateur that same year?
Yes, definitely it did. I actually didn’t think I would be able to win the Public Links. It just happened. But once I won the WAPL, it was a great confidence boost for me and I thought, I could actually win out here. When I was playing the Women’s Am, I knew I had won before, so I knew I had a good chance to win. I prepared hard for the Women’s Amateur and I was feeling good. Match play was something that I had always enjoyed playing. Going into that championship, I was very confident about it and I was ready to enjoy it out there.
Your golf career is loaded with key milestones. Where does the WAPL title fit in your accomplishments?
It helped me in my golf career. Every player has to learn how to win. Winning takes a lot of luck, but at the same time, it requires a lot of patience. Before winning the WAPL, I had many failures. Because of golf, I was heartbroken many times, but I just kept telling myself that I had to be patient, to keep fighting and to work harder. All of that effort paid off. It was a great return for me, a great payback for all the effort I had made. Of course, I haven’t quite yet played up to my expectations on the LPGA Tour, but I’m still trying to be patient out there. I think the WAPL helped me a lot.
How do you feel about the WAPL being retired after this year?
It’s kind of sad to hear. It’s a great championship. The WAPL provided me with a great opportunity to win and I think it would also provide the opportunity to win for other amateurs if it were still there.
Lisa D. Mickey is a Florida-based freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on USGA websites.