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And as evening fell at the historic Pebble Beach Golf Links, it was Allisen Corpuz who stood tall at week’s end, with her arms around the Harton S. Semple Trophy.
The 25-year-old Corpuz, a native of Honolulu (she, Michelle Wie West and Barack Obama are graduates of the same high school), was a model of poise under pressure as she scored a three-shot victory to claim the oldest major championship in women’s golf. She closed with a 3-under par 69 to complete the 72 holes at 9-under par 279.
Corpuz was the only player in the field to record four rounds under par. Charley Hull and former world number-one Jiyai both made final round charges to share second place at 6-under par 282 after rounds of 66 and 68 respectively. Nasa Hataoka, who started her Sunday with a one-shot lead, faltered down the stretch and closed with a 76 to share fourth place with 36-hole leader Bailey Tardy (73) at 3-under par 285. Defending champion Minjee Lee, Hannah Green and Grace Kim were all part of a tie for 13th at 4-over par 292. Lydia Ko and Gabriela Ruffels were part of a tie for 33rd at 296.
Pebble Beach Golf Links
The victory was the first of Corpuz’s LPGA career; she earned her Tour card in the fall of 2021 after playing college golf at the University of Southern California. She also played in the 2021 Curtis Cup as an amateur. Paired in the final group with Hataoka, Corpuz took the lead with birdies at two of the first three holes. The two were briefly tied when Corpuz bogeyed the fourth and Hataoka birdied the sixth and were tied at seven under par when they made the turn. But Corpuz rolled in a 10-foot birdie putt at the 10th and remained clear of the field the rest of the way.
She seemed unfazed by the pressure of the moment. This week was not her first time contending in a major championship. She tied for fourth at the Chevron Championship in April.
“I spoke with my mental coach, Bill Nelson, a bit this morning,” she said, “just to try to calm down a little. Really just tried to keep things steady.
“For me, I get a little quick, so really just tried to slow everything down and enjoy the moment.”
Corpuz says her knack for staying on an even keel emotionally has been an asset over the course of her golf career.
“I think I’ve always had a pretty calm demeanor,” she said. “Not so much on the inside, but projecting outwardly. I’ve always been pretty calm.”
Hataoka has now recorded eight top-10 finishes in major championships. She is still seeking her first major title.
“It was the first time for me to experience going through the rounds with the top-ranked group,” she said. “That was of course pressure for myself which I felt, but because I was in that ranking as we were going through each of the holes; I think I was able to learn from that.”
Corpuz claimed winner’s check for 2 million USD from a purse of 11 million USD, the largest purse in the history of women’s golf.
But this Women’s Open will be remembered for reasons having nothing to do with money. It marked the first time a women’s professional major championship was contested on one of the most celebrated golf venues in America and the world. And Corpuz was quick to acknowledge that fact, even in the heat of competition.
“Every few holes I just kind of looked out and said ‘I’m out here at Pebble Beach,” she said. “There’s not many places that are better than this. Really just tried to stay grounded and keep playing my game. Despite coming up short, Hataoka appreciated the significance of the moment.
“I was able to play at Pebble Beach for goodness sakes,” she said. “And that in itself was a great honor and a great joy for me. It would have been nice to have my name on that cup and that was disappointing. But I will give my fuel for the future.”
Hull started the final round seven shots off the lead but played her first five holes in four under par to move into contention. Like her peers, she will take away an abundance of memories from the week. “Just how pretty (Pebble Beach) is so nice,” she said. “Obviously, I kind of watched it growing up as a kid and it’s a great course to be playing out here. It’s pretty special.”
Notes: A team of 33 female turf professionals worked as volunteers alongside Pebble Beach superintendent Bubba Wright and his team before and during the championship. The 2024 Women’s Open is scheduled for Lancaster Country Club in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. In Gee Chun won the Women’s Open there in 2015.
Words by Rick Woelfel