Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Choi keeps cool head to land the trophy

Back-nine charge secures amateur title

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TEULON -- If a summer of momentum change was what Southwood's Jessie Choi was looking for, she likely found it Friday at Teulon Golf and Country Club.

Choi, just 19, entered the final round of the Manitoba Women's Amateur Championship in a three-way tie with defending champion Mindy Lichtman of St. Boniface and Jenna Roadley of Glendale.

The tie didn't last long.

Choi, headed for her second year as a member of the University of Iowa Hawkeyes golf team, birdied Teulon's par-five first hole and never relinquished the lead on her way to her first provincial title, a three-shot victory over Roadley.

Choi shot even-par 73 over Teulon's 5,306 yards on the final day to arrive at a seven-over 226 total for the 54 holes.

"The first year (at college), I think it's tough, all the time-managing with the tournaments and travelling a lot," she said. "I struggled with that, coming back to school after the tournaments and catching up with schoolwork.

"I think, too, there was going out too much on Fridays and Saturdays with my friends. I didn't take care of my responsibilities and didn't play well in some tournaments."

Choi's scoring average at Iowa was an unimpressive 82, and improvement has become her motivation.

"I wanted the summer to be a good season so I'd have some confidence to go back," she said. "This tournament means a lot for me. It's such a good confidence boost because I haven't been playing well lately.

"To win, I'm really happy about it. I just wanted to stay calm today. I just wanted to be happy with how I played, be relaxed."

After two birdies, Choi made a double-bogey at the par-three fifth and the game was back to even with Roadley, who had made five pars. But neither Roadley and Lichtman could stifle the mistakes and Choi got away by as many as three shots on the back nine.

Choi rolled in a 15-footer for a birdie at the par-five 18th for a third straight day to seal the win.

One of Friday's keys was asking her mother, Yeonok, to caddy for her.

"She helped me a lot, to stay calm," Choi said. "Thanks, Mom."

Roadley finished with a 76 to be the runner-up, and Lichtman wound up at 80 on Friday to pull into third at 233.

For the Canadian championship, those three were eligible to represent the province but Roadley won't be available because she's qualified for the U.S. Junior, so Southwood junior Winnie Hyun, who finished fourth, will move into the team spot.

In the women's senior division, Tammy Gibson of St. Boniface carded an 82 on Friday for a six-shot win over Minnewasta's Karen Foster and her second Manitoba title.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 9, 2011 C4

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