- Associated Press - Sunday, July 8, 2012

KOHLER, WIS. (AP) - Lydia Ko, the top-ranked amateur player in the world, survived a rough finish Sunday to take low amateur honors in the U.S. Women’s Open.

The 15-year-old from New Zealand was 3 under for the day and had a seven-shot lead over Emma Talley of Princeton, Ky., with three holes to go, but stumbled badly from there. Ko lost six strokes and finished with a 3-over 75 that put her at 12 over for the tournament at Blackwolf Run.

“I pulled my third shot on 16 and then pulled my first shot, my drive on 18, and then pulled my third shot,” Ko said. “It was kind of disappointing the last three holes.”

In stark contrast was Talley, an 18-year-old who shot an even-par 72. After a rough start in the tourney, Talley played the final 30 holes in even par.

Asked what she can take away from her experience in her third Open, Talley said “That I can do it. But I learned that I have a lot of things to work on. But I’m going to be there.”

Talley is headed to the University of Alabama this fall.

Finishing last among the amateurs who made the cut was Alison Lee of Valencia, Calif., who shot a 78 to finish 18 over.

Despite struggling in the final round, the 17-year-old said she enjoyed the Open.

“All in all, it’s a good experience. It was a lot of fun,” she said. “Playing with professionals is an honor.”

Although Ko is still an amateur, she has not only played with pros but beaten them. In January, Ko won a tournament on the Asian women’s tour at the age of 14 to become the youngest person to ever win a tour event.

Ko admitted she feels more pressure playing amateur events, which she is supposed to win, than against pros. And she credited the play of the other amateurs who made the cut.

“You know, I guess only three amateurs did make it to the weekend, but everyone out here, they deserve to be out here, and they earned their way here,” she said. “So I’m honored to get the low winner prize.”


PAK’S STRUGGLES: Se Ri Pak’s return to Blackwolf Run for the U. S. Women’s Open did not go as well as it did in 1998, when she won her first major title.

But after shooting a 1-under 71 to finish at 4 over, Pak said there was one thing that was better _ that she was not the only South Korean in the field.

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