Yujeong Son, 2018HHWI Champion
Kendall Griffin, Runner Up
Beatriz Arenas, Forever 49 Champ
Mary Rhodes, Ben Roman Champ
WINS THE HARDER HALL WOMEN’S INVITATIONAL
SEBRING, Fla. –– The 2018 competitive golf season is
far from being in full swing, but that’s hardly seemed to matter for
The 16-year-old Son, a resident of Norman, Okla., overcame windy and
bone-chilling, 30- and 40-degree weather in the final round to shoot
3-over 75 and register a six-stroke victory at the 63rd Harder Hall
Women’s Invitational at Harder Hall Golf Club.
All told, Son completed the tournament with an even-par 216 aggregate
(69-72-75). Weather was a storyline throughout the tournament—the
first day was cancelled due to inclement weather, reducing the event
from a 72-hole to a 54-hole event.
Leonie Bettel, a junior at the University of Kentucky and the leader
heading into the final round, ballooned to 82, while LSU freshman
Kendall Griffin, a Sebring resident, signed for a closing-day 74,
equaling the second-lowest round of the day. Both competitors finished
with a 6-over 222 total.
Son owned a three-shot lead following a first-day 69 before Bettle
fired a championship-best 68 in the second round to edge ahead of her
nearest pursuer in Son by one stroke.
In the final round, par was an excellent score and big numbers were in
play due to the challenging conditions and cold climate. Using
steadiness and occasional brilliance as her primary allies, Son
accounted for two birdies, three bogeys and a double bogey. Her best
shot may’ve been the 5-iron that she somehow kept under the breeze at
the par-4 eighth hole that settled 4 feet from the hole, fueling her to
a one over par outward half. Having already raced ahead of the field,
Son made a late birdie from 9 feet at the par-3 16th hole.
“All I wanted to do was make pars, not get too far ahead of myself, do
what I should be doing and play my game,” Son said.
She secured the title in her debut appearance.
“All I wanted was a top-three (finish), honestly, because this is my
first year playing here,” Son said. “It feels surreal. I tried to not
let anything get to me and play my game.”
Son claimed her third major amateur invitational title in the past
two-plus weeks, having notched a repeat victory at the Dixie Women’s
Amateur on Dec. 22 and she won the girls’ 13-18 year-old division of the
Allstate Sugar Bowl Tommy Moore Memorial Junior Golf Championship on
At 16, Son’s goals have crystalized; she wants to play on the LPGA Tour.
“I’ve always wanted to turn pro,” Son said. “Winning these past couple
of weeks has given me a boost in letting me know I can win these
tournaments and helps me get through to my goals.”
She moved with her family from their native South Korea to Stillwater,
Okla., at age 6 and nearly a year later, they headed to Norman, Okla.
Golf has been in her blood since—so, seemingly, has playing at a high
Son is the youngest Oklahoma women’s golf amateur state champion in
history, triumphing at age 13. As a freshman year in high school in July
2016, she won the Class 6A individual state championship playing for
Norman High School. That same summer, she advanced to the semifinals of
the U.S. Girls’ Junior. Last June, she rolled to victory at the Oklahoma
Golf Association Junior Girls’ Championship.
After capturing the Swinging Skirts American Junior Golf Association
Invitational in August 2017, Son earned an exemption into the field at
the Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship last October.
These days, Son is being homeschooled, partly
so she can continue to hone her golfing skills. She entered the Harder
Hall ranked fourth in both the Golfweek
girls’ junior rankings and the Rolex AJGA rankings.
With the hope of turning professional, she may never step foot on a
college campus. While realizing that the destination of the
professional ranks is a process, claiming the Harder Hall adds to her
“It is a tournament I really wanted to win because of how great the
field is, always. It’s an honor to win,” Son said.
Story Credit: Andrew Blair