Calm, Cool Corpuz Climbs Leader Board at Pebble

By Ron Sirak

| Jul 07, 2023 | Pebble Beach, Calif.

Calm, Cool Corpuz Climbs Leader Board at Pebble

There is a soothing calm in the way Allisen Corpuz works her way around a golf course. Looking only at her body language there is no way to tell how she is playing.

Corpuz doesn’t overpower golf courses; she outthinks them. She doesn’t blow away the opposition; she outlasts them. And that is proving to be a very successful formula in the 78th U.S. Women’s Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links.

The 25-year-old from Kapolei, Hawaii, opened this championship with a nearly mistake-free 3-under-par 69 on Thursday and followed it with an equally elegant 70 in Friday’s second. She now goes into the weekend at 5-under-par 139 and very much in the hunt for her first major championship, which would also be her first victory on the LPGA Tour.

“I think going into this year it really has just been about getting better and better,” said Corpuz. “I honestly still need to get a little more comfortable, I think, in contention. So that's really been the focus this year, just really trying to put myself into that spot and then hopefully learn how to convert as it keeps happening.”

Corpuz, in 2008, broke the record of fellow Hawaiian Michelle Wie West as the youngest to qualify for the Women’s Amateur Public Links at age 10 years, 3 months and 9 days. Her game continue to progress from there, earning a college scholarship to play at the University of Southern California and, after representing the USA on the victorious 2021 Curtis Cup Team in Wales, joined the LPGA Tour in 2022, finishing the season strong with top-20s in her last four tournaments to end up fourth in Rolex Rookie of the Year points.

This week has been a coming-out party, of sorts, for Corpuz. On the same week golf fans are saying goodbye to Wie West it is also saying hello to Corpuz, learning about the talented young woman whose roots in Hawaii junior golf run deep.

“She joined the Hawaii State Junior Golf Association at age seven or eight,” said former USGA Executive Committee member Mary Bea Porter King, who once headed the program. “She was always gifted. She just played her own game, a simple and uncomplicated game, very consistent. It’s been fun to watch her evolve from a shy little girl to a young woman. She’s quiet, almost [too] shy, smart, and very kind.”

Corpuz does two things very well: She keeps her golf ball out of trouble and she keeps her composure, which helps on U.S. Women’s Open setups. This year, she is third on the LPGA Tour in driving accuracy at 85.6 percent and 16th in greens in regulation at 72.6 percent.

“I think I'm a really solid ball striker which I think you need on big courses like this,” Corpuz said. “Me and Jay (Monahan, her caddie) I think do a great job of just looking at the course and really being honest about where my game is at, what shots I do or don't have for the week, and putting together a really solid game plan according to that.”

In many ways, Corpuz is following the same game plan she used in junior golf in Hawaii.

“She really hasn’t changed much since she was a little girl, she just shows up plays her simple, beautiful game of golf, wins and smiles, and comes back and does it again,” King said. “I think her strength is her mental game. She never seems to get rattled by anything or anybody. I’m very proud of my young girls here from Hawaii, Marissa Chow, Allysha Mateo, Alison, and [2014 champion] Michelle Wie West. Pretty darn good for the little state of Hawaii.”

Corpuz is very appreciative of the help she’s had along the way.

“The Hawaii Golf Association played a significant role in my development,” Corpuz said. “I played a ton of events and having that competition helped me develop skill-wise and in my mental approach to the game. There were like five or six girls I played with who went onto top amateur events.”

Her agent, J.S. Kang, president of Epoch Sports Group, uses similar words as King to describe Corpuz.

“Her head,” he said quickly when asked the strength of her game. “Using the Covid year to get her Master’s degree really helped us in establishing relationships with corporate partners.”

She went back to USC and earned a degree in Global Supply Chain Management with a graduate certificate in Business Analytics and Sustainability.

As Kang said: “How about that?”

The complete test presented by USGA championships explores not just shot making and technical skills but also mental resiliency. In the first two rounds at Pebble Beach, Corpuz has achieved high marks in all aspects of her game.

And as the championship winds into the cauldron of the weekend, she appears to have the cool demeanor to deal with the heat ahead.

Ron Sirak is a Massachusetts-based freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on USGA websites.