Eun-Hee Ji drained a clutch 20-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole to capture the US Women’s Open title. She won in a come-from-behind fashion, outlasting third-round leader Cristie Kerr – who seemed indomitable through 54 holes, but struggled in the final 18, putting up a disappointing four-over-par 75.
NBC’s Roger Maltbie caught up with Ji as she walked off the 18th green. Ji, a native of South Korea, speaks little English. A translator was on-site.
For your viewing pleasure, I recorded a video of the interview from my TV.
Maltbie directed his questions at Ji, of course. He spoke slowly so she could understand. And I think she did – it seemed to me that she wanted to respond in English; however she wasn’t able to find the words. Keep in mind the interview was just minutes after she had made the putt of her life. Ji was understandably overwhelmed with emotion. I’d imagine it’d be hard to conjure up the right words in your second language after clinching the most prestigious championship in women’s golf. And Ji did allude to that when she said via her translator how nervous she was.
Still. Huge cringe factor.
Now this interview will likely take us back to the controversy over LPGA Commissioner Carolyn Bivens’ proposed “English-only” policy last year. This was exactly the type of situation she was trying to avoid. Ironic considering her resignation is expected to be announced tomorrow.
The LPGA and women’s golf didn’t get the outcome they wanted – perhaps needed – an American champion. Nonetheless, congrats to Ji on an exciting finish and winning the 64th US Women’s Open. It was a nail biter to the very end and provided the drama and intensity that go along with any Major championship.
[Update: I apologize if I was unclear. To clarify, personally, I don’t have a problem that she gave her interview via translation. I just know that there will be those who argue that the LPGA is struggling because international players have been dominating the leaderboard. Much of the criticism is directed toward the Korean players and their inability to speak English and interact with sponsors. I find many of their arguments unfair, and in fact, some are offensive. But more to come on that later. I know the Koreans have tutors and want to speak English (like I noted above re: Ji). They’re working at it and the naysayers need to understand it doesn’t happen overnight.]