U.S. SENIOR WOMEN'S OPEN
5 Things You Need to Know for Round 3 July 13, 2018 | WHEATON, ILL. By Ron Sirak

Who will make a big move up the leader board on Saturday? Seven players are within five strokes of the lead. (USGA/John Gress)

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Moving Day got started a little early at the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open. Because of the threat of nasty weather, tee times were moved up on Saturday and it was decided to play Round 3 in groups of three, using both No. 1 and No. 10 tees. But no matter what time they play and which tees they use, the leader board is packed with some powerful names from the history of women’s golf. Here are five things to look for on Saturday:

Weather or Not

The forecast is a bit uncertain for Saturday at Chicago Golf Club, so tee times have been moved up and the players will be sent off Nos. 1 and 10. But you will still be able to see all the action on FS1 from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. EDT, 90 minutes earlier than originally planned. “In reviewing the weather pattern, there’s a chance of storms throughout the day [Saturday],” said Matt Sawicki, the USGA’s championship director. “Our goal is to get 18 holes in, so that we can do our best to ensure that we only have to play 18 holes on Sunday. We’re grateful that our partner Fox Sports was able to work with us to keep the championship on live.”

A Tale of Two Tees

Those who begin their third round on Hole 10 will face a daunting task as they try to move up the leader board. Through the first two rounds of the championship, Nos. 10 and 11 have been the two hardest holes on the golf course. No. 11 has played a stroke average of 0.69 over par, while No. 10 has played 0.63 strokes over par. Those are some hefty numbers. No. 10 especially is a daunting shot to open your round with – a par 3 over water that played 157 yards on Friday, to a difficult, well-bunkered green that usually plays into the prevailing wind. For those players starting on the back, there will be no easing their way into the round. Of course, the positive spin is that a cold slap in the face by a pair of the most brutish holes at Chicago Golf Club might get those players focused early in their rounds.

‘Hang Loose’ in Margaritaville

Among the more surprising names on the leader board is Patricia Ehrhart, a 52-year-old reinstated amateur from Hawaii. She opened with round of 75-74 and sits at 3-over-par 149, seven strokes behind co-leaders Trish Johnson and Laura Davies. In 2016, Ehrhart advanced to the semifinals of the U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur, and in 2017 to the semifinals of the U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur. But her day job is as the travel and event manager for the Margaritaville Surf Team, which is a project of singer Jimmy Buffett and for whom her three daughters compete. Buffett was at Chicago Golf Club on Monday when Ehrhart arrived for practice, and he might return after playing a gig at Wrigley Field on Friday night. “He was credentialed as my player instructor, so that’s pretty funny, but he turned into the caddie,” Ehrhart said on Friday. “Then somebody turned him into my uncle, so God knows what he’s going to be by tomorrow. He's working tonight, so we’ll see. I think it’s something he would like to do.”

Open and Shut Case

There were 16 winners of the U.S. Women’s Open in the field of the U.S. Senior Women’s Open and half of them qualified to play the weekend: Laura Davies, Juli Inkster, Liselotte Neumann, Hollis Stacy, Pat Bradley, Betsy King, Amy Alcott and Jane Geddes. Those champs missing the cut were Sandra Palmer, Jerilyn Britz, Lauri Merten, JoAnne Carner, Donna Andrews, Alison Nicholas, Jan Stephenson and Murle Breer. “It's been wonderful,” said Bradley. “The day I arrived on Monday, the smiles that I saw from all of the players, it said everything. I’m just so happy that I get two more days of this because the walk is just terrific.”

Linkster Inkster

Juli Inkster is one of the queens of USGA competition, Beginning in 1980, she won the U.S. Women’s Amateur Championship three consecutive times, then she added U.S. Women’s Opens in 1999 and 2002. Now she goes into the weekend with a chance to capture the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open. If she manages that, Inkster will join Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Carol Semple Thompson and JoAnne Carner as the only players to win three different USGA individual championships. “I think everyone will be nervous tomorrow,” Inkster said. “We all want to win this trophy. There is just something about USGA events that makes me focus more – the way they set it up. Today, I hit the ball a lot better. I actually played well today.”

Ron Sirak is a Massachusetts-based freelance writer who frequently contributes to USGA digital channels.

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