U.S. WOMEN'S OPEN
Notebook: Khang’s Brief Lead; Big Honor Coming for Davies July 9, 2015 | Lancaster, Pa. By Lisa Mickey

Amateur Megan Khang briefly held the first-round lead on Thursday at the U.S. Women's Open. (USGA/Hunter Martin)

When amateur Megan Khang saw her name on the leader board early in Round 1 of the 70th U.S. Women’s Open, she tried not to get too excited.

At that point, the 17-year-old from Rockland, Mass., had birdied four of her first seven holes at Lancaster Country Club and appeared unfazed by her position.

“I tried not to look, but you can’t help it,” said Khang, who struggled over her final 10 holes to finish at 1-over 71.

“I felt like I was playing well, but I knew there were going to be some low scores out there,” she added. “It got my heart racing a little bit.”

Truth be told, Khang’s heart has been racing ever since the snow finally melted in New England this spring and she was able to swing her clubs again.

By mid-May, she had Monday-qualified for the LPGA Tour’s Kingsmill Championship, where she tied for 58th.

“It felt great to qualify for it and to earn my spot there,” she said. “It was a big confidence booster to compete out there.”

This is Khang’s third Women’s Open, but after missing the cut in 2012 and 2013, she feels more prepared for this week’s championship.

“In my first U.S. Women’s Opens, I was starstruck by everyone,” she said.

A recent high school graduate, Khang is undecided about playing college golf. She is considering Wake Forest University, but admits it is her “life dream to get to the LPGA Tour.” Another option is to enter LPGA Q-School this fall as an amateur.

Khang plans to play in amateur tournaments this summer and will compete as an amateur in a Symetra Tour event in August.

But if she makes the Women’s Open cut, Khang said it will serve as motivation for her ultimate career goal.

“I think of this as preparation for the future,” said Khang. “It won’t influence my decision entirely, but it would help motivate me to become an LPGA player.”

Big Honor Coming For Davies

Laura Davies was in the last group to complete play before Thursday’s first round was suspended for inclement weather at 6:03 p.m. EDT.

The big-hitting Englishwoman, who is known to play quickly, made fast work of the 18th hole, reaching the 422-yard par 4 with a driver and 4-iron and registering a rare birdie to finish the day at even-par 70.

“I had a couple of three putts, which upset the apple cart a bit, but other than that, I played great,” said Davies, 51, the oldest player in the field. “This course is long enough where the long hitters actually have an advantage, for once.”

The U.S. Women’s Open is the championship where Davies launched her career stateside with a win in 1987. While she had competed professionally in Europe for two years, the Women’s Open playoff victory at Plainfield (N.J.) Country Club started her LPGA career that year. She owns 20 LPGA titles and 45 victories on the Ladies European Tour.

“The Women’s Open is one of my favorite events and I always try to do the 36-hole qualifier if I’m not already in,” said Davies, who qualified this year from the LPGA’s 2014 money list, but advanced to the 2014 championship via sectional qualifying in New Jersey.

Next week Davies will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in St. Andrews, Scotland. While she is pleased to be inducted alongside the game’s greats, she said she’ll “be glad when it’s over.”

“I don’t like the spotlight unless it’s on the golf course, but I’ve got to thank a lot of people for helping me get where I am,” said Davies. “I get to say thanks to friends, family, caddies, media and everybody who’s been kind to me over the years.”

Former LPGA Commissioner Charles Mechem will present Davies at the induction, and Hall of Famers Nancy Lopez and Annika Sorenstam plan to be in attendance.

“Nancy Lopez and Seve Ballesteros are my all-time favorite golfers,” said Davies. “Nancy was always the player I wanted to be like and act like.”

Davies added that she has no immediate plans to stop playing professional golf.

“I should probably get the whole thing and just retire, but I’m going to keep going,” she said. “I’m having my cake and eating it, too, so I can’t complain.”

Three Brothers, Three Loopers

Californian Lee Lopez and Mexico’s Gaby Lopez (no relation) are getting some help this week from caddie brothers Jorge Olguin (Gaby) and Aurelio Olguin (Lee).

The eldest of the three sibling caddies, Benito Olguin, is also on-site to offer swing guidance to Lee Lopez.

Golf has always been a family affair for the three brothers from Mexico City, who now work as professional caddies on both the LPGA and Symetra Tours. They grew up five minutes from a golf course and began working as caddies on weekends.

Benito, 46, was once a competitive amateur player in Mexico. The middle sibling, Jorge, 37, caddied for him at tournaments across Mexico. As Jorge’s game improved, the youngest brother, Aurelio, 31, learned to caddie by carrying Jorge’s bag.

The brothers were determined to stay in the game, so they moved to the United States in 1994 to work as club caddies at a private facility in Naples, Fla., and on the professional women’s tours.

Benito started on the Symetra Tour seven years ago with then-rookie professional Lizette Salas. He caddied for Lee Lopez on the Symetra Tour last week, where Lopez carded a 10-under-par 62 in the final round to tie for fourth.

“I love to watch these kids and do the job I love,” said Benito.

The three brothers also caddied in the 2012 U.S. Women’s Open at Blackwolf Run in Wisconsin; Benito for Anya Alvarez, Aurelio for Amy Neff and Jorge for Lili Alvarez, of Mexico.

Next week Jorge begins working for LPGA rookie SooBin Kim, but this week he’s guiding fellow Mexican Gaby Lopez, who was the runner-up in the  2015 NCAA Division I Women’s Golf Championship in May.

“I’m not going to say they’re going to be the next Lorena [Ochoa], but Mexican golf fans are hungry to see another Mexican player on the LPGA,” said Jorge.

Aurelio met Mexican-American Lee Lopez several years ago and hopes to help the UCLA graduate to a strong finish this week.

But while the brothers each hope to help top Latin players transition to the LPGA, they never lose sight of achieving their own dreams to work in golf.

“I’m so lucky to follow in my brothers’ footsteps,” said Aurelio.

Lisa Mickey is a Florida-based freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on USGA websites.

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