With alumni spanning the Oval Office, Hollywood , the Olympics, and even outer space, there have been countless landmark days for graduates of Punahou School in Hawaii. Thanks to Allisen Corpuz , Sunday was yet another. The 25-year-old became the second US Women’s Open champion to emerge from the Honolulu private school with her maiden major and LPGA Tour triumph at Pebble Beach in California on Sunday, following on from Michelle Wie West.
With a tearful West – champion at Pinehurst in 2014 – bidding an emotional farewell to the sport after missing the cut Friday, it marked a poignant full-circle moment for Hawaii’s only two women’s major winners. “I never really thought I’d get this far,” Corpuz told reporters Sunday. “Just watching Michelle, she’s been such a huge role model to me … But I’ve never really compared myself to her. “I’ve always wanted to make my own name.
She’s just served as a really big inspiration.”
Corpuz’s triumph, the first by an American in the country’s national championship since Brittany Lang in 2016, did not go unnoticed by Punahou’s most famous alumnus: former US President Barack Obama. Obama, who graduated from the school in 1979, took to Twitter to congratulate Corpuz on her victory and arrange a match at Kapolei Golf Club, one of the state’s most prestigious clubs and – a stone’s throw from the seventh hole – the location of her parents’ house.
“You make us all proud – and look forward to a round at Kapolei!” Obama said. Congratulations to fellow Hawaiian Allisen Corpuz for winning the U.S. Women’s Open! You make us all proud — and look forward to a round at Kapolei! 🤙🏾
Punahou’s star-studded list of alumni includes AOL co-founder Steve Case, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, actress Kelly Preston, NASA astronaut Charles Veach, and Olympic gold medalist surfer Carissa Moore , yet two names stand out for Corpuz. “Barack and Michelle [Wie] are the two Punahou alum that I get talked to about the most,” Corpuz said.
“He’s done a lot in his career … that’s really special.”
Corpuz had begun Sunday one stroke shy of leader Nasa Hataoka, whose blistering third round six-under 66 had put her within 18 holes of a first major title. Yet the Japanese star’s dreams unraveled with a closing 76, four bogeys in a disastrous back nine dropping her back to tied-fourth. Meanwhile, Corpuz raced out of the blocks, birdieing twice across her first three holes. It was a necessary pace given the furious start made by England’s Charley Hull, who was four-under for the round after just four holes.
Adamantly refusing to look at the leaderboard, Corpuz accidentally caught sight of it midway through the back nine. By that point though, with back-to-back birdies at the 14 th and 15 th holes, the American was almost over the line. With Hull ultimately giving herself too much ground to make up and South Korea’s Shin Ji-yai similarly leaving a challenge too late, even a bogey at the penultimate hole caused little concern for Corpuz.
A steady par at the 18 th saw the Hawaiian ease home at three-under for the day and nine-under overall to clinch the title and a $2 million winner’s share of a record $11 million prize purse. “My mind is racing,” Corpuz said. “This is really a dream come true. It was something I had dreamed of, but at the same time kind of just never really expected it to happen.
Just trying to take it in and enjoy the moment.”
The victory sees Corpuz enter the history books as the winner of the first women’s major ever held at the fabled Pebble Beach venue. The Californian links course had played host to a string of men’s US Open championships across its 104-year history, including an unforgettable 100th edition of the tournament in 2000 when Tiger Woods obliterated the field to record – at 15 shots clear – the largest margin of victory ever seen at a major championship.
“Personally, when I watch golf on TV, it makes it so much more interesting to know the course, and I think it helped to get us a lot of viewers this week,” Corpuz said. “Especially just knowing the history – Tiger just absolutely annihilated this place. It’s really special. “I think just the fact that it’s a US Open means a lot to me, but knowing that it’s at Pebble makes it even sweeter.”
© 2023 Cable News Network. A Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All Rights Reserved. CNN Sans ™ & © 2016 Cable News Network. Credit – CNN