Kimberly Kim, 14, wins US Womens Amateur
When Kimberly Kim fell behind after the first 18 holes of the U.S. Women's Amateur, her caddie suggested she play "smashmouth" golf.
The 14-year-old player from Hawaii took the advice and beat former bank clerk Katharina Schallenberg of Germany 1-up in 36 holes of match play Sunday to become the event's youngest champion.
Schallenberg, 26, made a birdie putt from off the green on the par-5 36th hole. That placed the pressure on Kim to birdie for the victory at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club.
She sunk the putt from 5 feet out.
"I was shaking so much," she said. "I don't even know where I aimed, or anything."
After the morning session, Schallenberg was 2-up. Kim's caddie, Frank Nau, said: "We're going to play smashmouth golf."
"I said, `What's that?' He said, `Just go for it," Kim said.
Schallenberg cried after failing to become the first German-born player to win a USGA event.
"I lost but it was OK because we both played good golf," she said.
The championship match, on the 6,380-yard, par-71 Witch Hollow Course, featured very different players: Kim is a carefree teenager who didn't know going in that the Amateur was a "big" tournament, while Schallenberg is consistent and steady.
Schallenberg got off to a fast start, going as much as 5-up on the opening 18 holes. But she lost steam and lost the last three holes of the morning.
Kim was loose, with words of inspiration -- including "Trust" -- written in magic marker on her wrist.
She and her caddie would often sit on the fairway while waiting for her shot, taking a break from temperatures in the low 90s.
In the afternoon, Schallenberg struggled with three straight shots into bunkers on the par-5 No. 25 hole, Kim took over with a birdie putt on the par-4 No. 26 that tied the match.
Kimberly Kim, from Hilo, Hi., gestures as she holds her trophy after winning the 106th U.S. Women's Amateur golf tournament in North Plains, Ore., Sunday, Aug. 13, 2006. Kim, 14, beat German's golfer Katharina Schallenberg and is the youngest player ever to win the title.
AP - Aug 13, 9:49 pm EDT
"I hadn't heard 'all square' in 20 some holes," Kim marveled.
Kim went 2-up on the 31st hole with a par putt, and held on for the lead.
Schallenberg briefly played at the University of Oregon in 2000 but quit because she had a fear of flying. She returned to Germany, where she apprenticed to be a bank clerk but found it "too boring," and is now studying international business.
She won the 2005 and 2006 International German Amateur Championships, but has played infrequently in the United States.
Kim, who has a mouthful of braces and says her hobby is sleeping, has been living recently in Arizona to be able to participate in more tournaments.
Kim lost in the Women's Amateur Public Links final to Tiffany Joh, 6 and 5, earlier this year. She was the youngest player to make the cut at the U.S. Women's Open.
She said it was the first time she had won an event in two years.
"Usually when I get down I get really upset with myself and just give up," she said.
Kim defeated 15-year-old Lindy Duncan of Plantation, Fla., 1-up in Saturday's semifinals to make it to the finals, while Schallenberg downed 21-year old Texan Stacy Lewis on the 19th hole.
"I wasn't expecting to win the U.S. Open, just make the cut. Today, I was shaking," Kim said.
Kim didn't realize the weight of the run she was making at the Amateur until she saw a commercial for the event on television. A former Amateur champion then showed her Cox Cup.
"I didn't know it was that big of a tournament until last night, when there was a commercial on the Golf Channel, and I thought, `Wow, this is a big deal,"' she said. "I don't even watch golf, I was just looking for myself."
Earlier in the week, Paige Mackenzie was the medalist in stroke-play qualifying.
Before Kim, the youngest Amateur champion was Laura Baugh, who won it in 1971 at 16 years, two months and 21 days.
Last year's Amateur was won by 17-year-old Morgan Pressel at the Ansley Golf Club's Settindown Creek course in Roswell, Ga.
Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club was the site of the U.S. Women's Open in 1997 and 2003. Tiger Woods won the 1996 U.S. Amateur at the club.