Laughing Part Of The Way
Tiffany Joh Is Known For Cracking Jokes. But When It Came Time To Get Serious In The WAPL Final, Joh Got Down To Business.
2008 Championship Annual: The Year In Review
By David Shefter
The girl definitely has the gift of gab. Whether it's a fellow competitor, a bird, turtle or something inanimate like a golf ball, Tiffany Joh will talk to it — and the loquacious 21-year-old from San Diego usually includes a punch line. She's simply funny.
Ask 18-year-old Jennifer Song. Before a practice round for the 2008 U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship at Erin Hills, a spectacular new links-style layout — and a course that already has landed the 2011 U.S. Amateur — Joh sought out Song to play a practice round. Joh was in rare form all day, cracking jokes and having the normally serious South Korean teenager laughing up a storm. "She was hilarious," said the Michigan-born Song.
But eventually things got serious. As fate would have it, Joh and Song ended up playing each other in the 36-hole final.
Joh already had won this title, in 2006, but she was doubtful about her chances of adding a second WAPL title — even though she had birdied six of the first seven holes in her semifinal win over Tiffany Lua.
|Tiffany Joh was on target during her run to the title. (Steven Gibbons/USGA)|
Oddly, this "pessimism" was deliberate. "I think it helps me to just lower my expectations, so I can go out there and play," Joh explained.
The first 18 holes did not go well for her. At lunchtime, she was 2 down. She was happy with her overall play, but said later that foremost on her mind at the time was this: "I have to stop three-putting. I left a lot of strokes out there."
Not that she isn't usually good on the greens. During the previous evening, her good friend Allison Whitaker, a standout on the Duke University golf squad, had sent a text-message from her native Australia, telling Joh to make those 60-footers "that you always drain on me."
The message eventually sunk in — on the 33rd hole. With the match now all square, Joh delivered a punch — without the line — by holing a downhill, curling putt for her first lead of the match.
And when Song three-putted the 34th hole, Joh was but one hole away from a 2-and-1 victory. At the par-4 35th, each golfer missed a birdie chance and conceded the other's par. With that, Joh became the fifth multiple WAPL champion in the event's 32 years.
With a second WAPL win under her belt, this should have been the time for Joh to get seriously delirious, but instead she showed her sensitive side by dedicating the victory to the father of her UCLA roommate Beth Wallace. Six weeks earlier, Chuck Wallace had died of cancer.
"Honestly, I didn't think winning the WAPL was going to happen," said Joh. "The first 27 holes weren't very beautiful, but I got a couple of lucky breaks in the end and was able to pull it out." David Shefter is a USGA Digital Media staff writer.This article first appeared in the 2008 Championship Annual, a special publication mailed to USGA Members in November.