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Park wins nail-biter

ERIE, Pa. -- Jane Park won the US Women's Amateur yesterday, clinching her first US Golf Association title when Amanda McCurdy bogeyed the 36th and final hole.

The 17-year-old Park, a runner-up last year in this tournament and the US Girls' Junior, got a big victory hug from her caddie, cousin Jung Park, after securing the 2-up win over McCurdy, a 20-year-old junior at the University of Arkansas.

"Being up there with those names -- Bobby Jones, Tiger Woods, Carol Semple-Thompson -- it's awesome," said Park, of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

In her trademark white bucket hat, Park played with the same confidence she had shown all week. She shot 6 under par on 14 holes in the second round to advance, and made the finals after being down to Curtis Cup teammate Sarah Huarte to win, 2 up.

Yesterday, McCurdy and Park were even after the first 18 holes.

In the afternoon, Park birdied the first hole, a 372-yard par 4, to go 1 up. She extended her lead to 3 up going into the 29th hole.

But McCurdy birdied that hole, a 164-yard par 3, to make the match 2 up. Park answered right back, pitching in for birdie at the next hole to win it.

McCurdy birdied the 33d and 35th holes, after Park's wedge shot from behind the hole flew past it about 20 yards and rolled back down to the fairway.

"I absolutely pured that shot. It was the best shot I hit all week -- and it went 20 yards over the green. But it's OK," Park said.

McCurdy had a long putt for birdie on the last hole to extend the match, but she three-putted and ended up with a bogey to give Park the win.

"When you hit it close like that, you hit it inside 15 feet, and if you want to win a tournament, you have to make them. She made them and I didn't," said McCurdy.

Despite the tournament-ending bogey, it was a good week for McCurdy. Winner of this year's Arkansas amateur championship, she was little known outside of her home state before coming to Erie's Kahkwa Club, where she quickly became a crowd favorite.

McCurdy said the cheers from the crowd made it harder not to win.

"I wanted to win for myself, but I felt like I was playing for them as well," McCurdy said. "And to not come out on top was kind of disappointing."

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