July 2, 2011
Bandon, Ore. - -
Brianna Do only led for three holes. Luckily for her, she led the one that counted most.
Do, 21, of Vietnam won the 2011 U.S. Women's Amateur Public Links Championship, defeating Marissa Dodd, 17, of Allen, Texas, 1 up, in the 36-hole championship match, which was held at the 6,098-yard, par-71 Old Macdonald layout at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort.
In victory, Do became the second UCLA player in three years to win the Women's Amateur Public Links, joining Tiffany Joh, who won the title in 2006 and 2008. Mary Enright, also a former UCLA player, won the title in 1981.
"I don't really know what it feels like right now," said an overwhelmed Do, a senior. "I don't think it's hit me. But it feels good as of right now. I don't really know how to describe it."
By reaching the finals, Do and Dodd are fully exempt into the 2011 U.S. Women's Amateur Championship, which will be conducted at Rhode Island Country Club in Barrington, R.I., August 8-14. Do also is exempt into the 2012 U.S. Women's Amateur and receives a 10-year Women's Amateur Public Links exemption.
While Do ultimately took the victory, it was Dodd, an incoming freshman at Wake Forest University this fall, who dominated much of the morning round, holding the lead for 10 of the first 11 holes.
However, Dodd's early run was halted when she bogeyed the par-3 12th to square the match. Another Dodd bogey after a tough run-in with a bunker on the par-4 16th gave Do her first lead of the match.
"It was a couple of unlucky kicks," said Dodd, whose only previous match-play experience was a first-round loss at the 2010 U.S. Girls' Junior. "But that's the way the course works and you've got to come back from them."
And come back she did. Dodd was able to capitalize on consecutive Do bogeys on 17 and 18 to take a 1-up lead into the lunch break.
In the afternoon, Dodd came out on a tear, carding birdies on three of the first four holes to take a 3-up lead, the largest of the final. But the lead evaporated with consecutive bogeys on holes 23-25, squaring the match once again.
"I just kind of took my time," said Do of her mindset in fighting back from the deficit. "I was patient and kind of chipped away at it."
Do briefly regained the lead when Dodd bogeyed the par-4 29th hole. But her own bogey on the ensuing par-3 30th quickly squared the match again.
Dodd took the lead back with a well-timed birdie on the par-4 32nd hole and carried the advantage until the par-5 35th. But when Dodd's approach landed 9 feet past the hole, Do put hers even closer and won the hole with a birdie, squaring the match going into the 36th hole.
"I got back to all square, one up, one down," said Do, who was born in Lakewood, Calif., but represented her parents' home country this week. "The last two holes is where it counted. My putting kind of showed up today in those two holes.
"Going to 18 all square was a lot better than going in one down knowing you have to birdie to keep it going."
What Do coined as a "perfect" drive on the 36th set the tone for the finish. While Dodd found a fairway bunker, Do's clean approach from the fairway gave her the chance to safely reach the green in regulation. With her short par putt conceded, Do watched Dodd fail on her par attempt and give Do the title.
"I played and I hit some really good shots after I was 3 down, and I had some really good opportunities," said Do. "I just took advantage."
In winning the national title for female public-course golfers, Do was also able to take some consolation for not participating in UCLA's NCAA Division I title run this past spring. While she is a member of the UCLA women's golf team, she was not part of the five-woman squad that went to College Station, Texas, for the championship.
"I am a Bruin, and I'm representing [as] a Bruin this week, but this is kind of my national championship," said Do, who added her name to past Women's Amateur Public Links champions such as Candie Kung, Michelle Wie and Yani Tseng.
As a relative unknown before this championship, Dodd admitted to exceeding her own expectations with her performance. With her father, Mark, as her caddie and her mother, sister, grandparents and many other family and friends in the gallery after making a last-minute trip from Texas, Dodd did shed a few tears after missing her final putt.
"Happy tears, sad tears," said Dodd. "It was all really good, though. I had so much fun. I had a blast out here with my dad and everybody who came out here to watch me. I really appreciate it all and had a great time."
Story by Christina Lance, coordinator of championship communications for the USGA.