U.S. WOMEN'S OPEN
Daily Digest: Lopez Again Brings Her Ace Game
July 9, 2016 | San Martin, Calif.
By Tom Mackin and Ron Driscoll
Lee Lopez has a new tradition: she only makes holes-in-one during the third round of the U.S. Women’s Open. After using a 6-iron on the 152-yard sixth hole at Lancaster (Pa.) Country Club last year to notch her first career ace, the Whittier, Calif., native used a 4-iron on the 195-yard 12th hole at CordeValle on Saturday for her second.
“I knew as soon as I hit it that would it have to get unlucky to not end up in a good spot,” said Lee, 26, who shot 1-under-71 and is even par (216) for the championship, seven strokes behind leader Lydia Ko. While this year’s hole-in-one provided an immediate adrenaline boost, especially since it followed a bogey, Lopez maintained her focus.
“I think it’s easier to stay present out here in a major championship just because the golf course is so tough,” said Lopez, who finished tied for 20th last year in her first U.S. Women’s Open. “Whatever is ahead of you is the next big challenge. It didn’t sink in until I finished.”
Lopez now owns the 23rd and 25th holes-in-one in U.S. Women’s Open history, with Hee Young Park’s ace on CordeValle’s 168-yard 16th hole in Round 2 on Friday sandwiched between them. Lopez’s twin aces match amateur Nancy Porter, who carded hers in 1972 (at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y.) and 1976 (Rolling Green Golf Club in Springfield, Pa.).
Now in her first year on the LPGA Tour, Lopez reached the quarterfinals of the 2008 U.S. Amateur Women’s Public Links and was a co-medalist in 2012. The UCLA graduate noted that she made her first hole-in-one on a par-3 course when she was 11. “Everybody says that one doesn’t count. But in my mind it does.”
Kang Maintains Patience With Putter
Danielle Kang began Round 3 in a four-way tie for sixth place, and ended it in solo seventh after a round of 1-over 73. She was smiling but slightly frustrated after ending the day by converting a short birdie putt on No. 18.
“It kind of hurts when you two-putt 16 holes in a row,” said Kang, who hit 15 greens in regulation but had 15 pars and two bogeys (on Nos. 1 and 4) before her final birdie. “On the last hole, I finally hit it close enough. I didn’t putt bad, they just kept hanging on the edge or they would lip out. That just means I’m striking it well and putts will fall tomorrow.”
The two-time U.S. Women’s Amateur champion (2010, 2011) made note of Saturday’s gusting winds. “It was howling once in a while and it made a little more difficult than usual. But I feel comfortable playing this golf course. I’ve been striking the ball really well. I don’t mind the wind.”
Kang is four strokes back with 18 holes to play, and the Thousand Oaks resident is still California dreaming of her first major.
Lewis Tries to Stay Philosophical
Stacy Lewis battled difficult conditions late on Friday to finish off a round of 2-over 74, then rallied on Saturday with a 3-under 69 to move from a tie for 29th into a tie for eighth place.
“I was just happy to have a tee time today,” said Lewis, 31, who finished second to Michelle Wie in 2014 and solo third last year. “The weirdest part was finishing at 8 last night and then teeing up at 8 this morning. That was a really quick turnaround, probably the quickest we have had.”
This is the first time that players have gone off in groupings of three off the first and 10th tees in Round 3 since the 2011 U.S. Women’s Open at The Broadmoor, which was delayed several times by weather.
“I think it’s been a good test but the golf course has been a little inconsistent at times,” said Lewis, a two-time major champion. “The greens are rolling perfect, but the course has played completely different every day I’ve played it. You have to make do with what you get. That’s what a U.S. Open usually is.”
Notable and Quotable
- Lydia Ko (19 years, 2 months and 16 days) is attempting to become the youngest three-time major champion in golf history. Young Tom Morris was 19 years, 4 months and 25 days when he won his third Open Championship in 1870. This is the second time Ko (7-under, 209) has had a 54-hole lead in a major championship. She finished runner-up to Brooke Henderson in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship last month, losing in a playoff. Ko has come from behind in the final round in both of her major-championship victories (2015 Evian Championship and 2016 ANA Inspiration)
- “On No. 18, I got a good break and made a great par. Especially after No. 17, where I made bogey on a hole that I didn’t think I hit anything wrong, and then parred a hole where I hit a god-awful shot. It's a funny game.” – Cristie Kerr, on her rollercoaster finish to a round of even-par 72.
- Amy Yang, who is in a tie for fourth at 5-under 211, has finished in the top 10 in five of the last six U.S. Women’s Opens, including runner-up finishes in 2012 at Blackwolf Run and in 2015 at Lancaster. Yang has 13 career top 10s in major championships without a victory.
- Ariya Jutanugarn, who is tied for eighth entering the final round, played the only bogey-free round on Saturday. Going back to the second round, Jutanugarn has played 25 consecutive holes without a bogey.
- Fourteen of the last 20 players who have led or held a share of the lead through 54 holes have gone on to win the U.S. Women’s Open.
- The 428-yard, par-4 second played as the most difficult hole in the third round with a scoring average of 4.42. There were no birdies on the hole on Saturday, with 45 pars, 24 bogeys and three double bogeys.
Arizona resident Tom Mackin is a frequent contributor to USGA websites. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ron Driscoll is the manager of editorial services for the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.