USGA CHAMPIONS
Ji Rekindles That Winning Feeling October 23, 2017 | Far Hills, N.J. By David Shefter, USGA

Before Sunday, Eun-Hee Ji's last victory came when she holed a 20-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to win the 2009 U.S.. Women's Open. (USGA/John Mummert)

Before Sunday, it had been so long since Eun-Hee Ji entered the winner’s circle, some may have forgotten exactly when and where that occurred.

Eight years, three months and 10 days had elapsed since the then 23-year-old poured in a 20-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to win the 2009 U.S. Women’s Open by one stroke over Candie Kung.

Since that dramatic moment at Saucon Valley Country Club, Ji, of the Republic of Korea, had garnered nearly $3 million in earnings on the LPGA Tour and collected 14 top-10 finishes. But she had not felt the thrill of victory. That drought finally ended when Ji carded a final-round 65 to claim the Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship. Ji’s 17-under 271 total was six strokes better than 2012 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Lydia Ko. World No. 1 So Yeon Ryu, the 2011 U.S. Women’s Open champion, was one of five players to share third, 10 strokes back.

“I'm so happy and excited because I haven't won for the past eight years,” said Ji, who registered 20 birdies against just three bogeys at Miramar Resort and Country Club. “So I was waiting for this moment for so long, so I'm super happy right now.”

Two other U.S. Women’s Open champions – Cristie Kerr (2007) and Brittany Lang (2016) – posted top-10 finishes, finishing eighth and tied for 10th, respectively.

Langer Continues March Toward Irwin’s Mark

Bernhard Langer, the 2010 U.S. Senior Open champion, collected his sixth PGA Tour Champions title of 2017 on Sunday in dramatic fashion. Langer, 60, of Germany, holed an 18-foot eagle putt on the 72nd hole to edge 1984 U.S. Amateur champion Scott Verplank by one stroke to claim the Dominion Energy Charity Classic in Richmond, Va., the first of three events that comprise the Charles Schwab Cup Playoffs.

Even par for the round heading to what played as the easiest hole on The Country Club of Virginia’s James River Course, Langer said he aimed 8 inches left of the hole. A winner more than 100 times worldwide during the course of his hall-of-fame career, this marked the first time Langer made an eagle putt to win a tournament.

“I was missing so many putts today and finally I made one," he said after claiming his 35th PGA Tour Champions title. "The confidence wasn't that high, to tell you the truth. I had a very similar putt just on 17 that broke about 7 or 8 inches left to right and I made a really good stroke but I left it an inch short, or two inches. I was going to make sure I got this one to the hole.”

Langer, who clinched the top seed for the Charles Schwab Championship at Phoenix (Ariz.) Country Club in two weeks, finished the 54-hole event at 16-under 200. Verplank made a strong weekend charge with a pair of 6-under 66s after an opening-round 69. Reigning U.S. Senior Open champion Kenny Perry, and Billy Mayfair, the 1986 U.S. Amateur Public Links and 1987 U.S. Amateur champion, shared third at 12-under 204.

Langer’s 35 PGA Tour Champions titles are second only to five-time USGA champion Hale Irwin, who has won 45 times on the 50-and-over circuit. Langer is also second all time on the PGA European Tour’s wins list with 42, trailing only Seve Ballesteros (50).

Closer to their Cards

A pair of USGA champions were among the 82 golfers to advance to the third and final stage of the LPGA Tour’s Qualifying Tournament on Sunday at Plantation Golf & Country Club in Venice, Fla. Gabriella Then, the 2013 U.S. Girls’ Junior champion who was celebrating her 22nd birthday on Sunday, tied for third at 9-under 279, three strokes behind medalist Georgia Hall, of England. Then’s fellow University of Southern California alum Kyung Kim, the 2012 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links champion, tied for 55th at 4-over 292.

Eun Jeong Seong, of the Republic of Korea, who in 2016 became the first golfer to win the U.S. Girls’ Junior and U.S. Women’s Amateur in the same year, failed to advance. Seong, who also won the 2015 U.S. Girls’ Junior, was in solid position after shooting a 68 in Round 1, but followed with rounds of 77, 79 and 75 to miss advancing by four strokes. Seong competed as an amateur.

The final stage takes place Nov. 27-Dec. 3 at LPGA International (Hills and Jones courses) in Daytona Beach, Fla.

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

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