Maybe what Annie Park needed was someone to come out of the Nassau Country Club pro shop, hand her a putter with a catchy nickname and tell her to give it a try. It worked for Bobby Jones, and nothing else seemed to work for Park Tuesday at the U.S. Women's Amateur.
The 19-year-old from Levittown did have one experience in common with golf's all-time amateur: she was downcast. Jones was so discouraged during a 1923 practice round at Nassau, on the eve of the U.S. Open at Inwood, that club pro Jim Maiden proffered a putter he had nicknamed "Calamity Jane." Jones immediately started making six-footers, went on to win the first of many big titles and burnished Nassau's place in golf history.
Park said that during her 7-over-par 77 in the second round of stroke play, "I was struggling out there. I just stopped trying. I was like, 'This is brutal.' "
After finishing at 9 over for the two days of stroke play -- having produced shots such as the short low-liner on No. 17 that an 18 handicapper would hit -- she figured she had no chance at making the cut and qualifying for match play, which begins Wednesday.
"I just want to forget about it. I just want to get done and forget about it and start a new day," she said, adding that she heads back to USC's fall semester in two weeks. "I'm looking forward to school."
As it turned out, other golfers found Nassau's rough and fast greens daunting and she missed a playoff by only one stroke. That was no consolation.
It was not a good showing for the only Long Islander in the first Women's Amateur at Nassau Country Club in 100 years. Was the pressure of having an international event in her backyard a burden? "No, I don't think so. I was just trying to play my own game out there," she said.
Park had played well Monday, but finished 2 over after missing a pair of two-footers near the end of the round (near the Calamity Jane Halfway House that was the pro shop back in 1923). That called to mind Nassau lore in which Maiden is said to have nicknamed the putter Calamity Jane because, "what greater calamity can befall a golfer than a short putt missed?"
She had vowed to change putters for the second round, but settled for a new grip on the one she used Monday. It didn't help, as her long game also failed her.
"I think it was because I couldn't make any putts, so then I had more pressure on my shots, to get them closer. Obviously that was not going to work out," she said. "I was trying to get it back together, but nothing was going in. I was trying to give it my best shot every hole. It just didn't work out."
Park fell well short of medalist Bethany Wu, a rising senior at Diamond Bar (Calif.) High School (3 under). Alison Lee, Park's longtime friend from the junior golf circuit who is coming off a stellar freshman season at UCLA, finished even for the two days and then commiserated.
"I'm sure there was a lot of pressure on her because it was here," Lee said. "You can't play golf without having a bad round. You just need to brush it off and move on. Tomorrow is going to be a new day."