It was a pro-Morgan Pressel crowd wedged into every seat, nook, and cranny around the 18th green at Highland Meadows yesterday.
Maybe it would have been different had everyone known the offer on the table from Eunjung Yi, Pressel's opponent in a sudden-death playoff at the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic.
Yi's father owns a Korean restaurant in Temecula, Calif., midway between Los Angeles and San Diego. After she shot a third-round 61 to take a four-shot lead after 54 holes, Yi told writers that, "If I win, my dad will give everyone a free meal."
The joint is called Minong
Korean BBQ, and the rest is up to you. Mapquest might be a good idea.
"Everything free for everybody," a joyful Yi said yesterday, repeating the all-you-can-eat offer.
So if you have a taste for wang galbi, those marinated ribs that melt in your mouth, or bibimbap, beef and vegetables over steamed rice topped with a sunny-side-up fried egg and served in an earthenware pot, then Kyung Su Yi's restaurant is the place for you. Don't forget to try some bossam kimchi, the Cadillac of cooked cabbage, for a side dish. Peter, as Kyung Su is known to his American friends, will fix you right up, on the house. Just tell him you're from Toledo.
That's where his daughter won her first LPGA tournament yesterday, ramming in a no-question, 10-foot birdie putt on the first playoff hole, No. 18. The putt had barely left her putter before she thrust both arms into the air.
"Yes, I knew it was in," she said.
For Pressel and her fans, it was another disappointment, another close call at the Farr, where she finished second in 2007 to Se Ri Pak.
This marked the second time that Pressel has whipped fans at Highland Meadows into a frenzy with a dramatic shot only to come up short of the title.
She had a hole-in-one to take a brief three-shot lead during the final round in '07. Yesterday, she eagled the 17th hole, holing out a 70-yard chip shot, to move into a tie.
"I kind of woke [Se Ri] up, and she made a lot of birdies on me," Pressel said. "This time, [Yi] won the tournament. She made birdie on the playoff hole. I had my opportunities."
But she was undone by a pair of short chips from near-identical, perfect positions in the fairway at No. 18, once at the end of regulation and once in the playoff.
"I thought the second one, for sure, would be enough," Morgan said.
She followed with near-perfect putts on both occasions, but neither found the cup.
Pressel was all tears with her family immediately after it ended. Yi, meanwhile, hustled off the green, grinning from ear to ear, found a cell phone, and called her dad, who had been watching on ESPN2 at his restaurant.
Maybe she felt she had to warn him about an impending run on samgyupsal, the yummiest of pork belly BBQ, by a bunch of Ohioans.
The Yis might be able to put you up for the night too. The whole family - mom, dad, and four kids including Eunjung - has lived in the U.S. for two years. She said their home has nine bedrooms and 4 1/2 bathrooms. Sounds like there might be room.
"I told my dad, 'I got win.' He said, 'Yay!' Now I can go play in the U.S. Open and my mom and dad promised they'd come," Yi said with a big smile.
Pressel was the people's choice in this duel for all the obvious reasons. She is American, young, vivacious, and engaging.
But allow me to tell you that Yi, who also is 21 years old, is just as vivacious and just as engaging.
She is a worthy champion.
And who doesn't like a free meal?
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