SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – Jodi Ewart Shadoff is playing her first U.S. Women’s Open, but that doesn’t mean she can’t compete with the best.
After shooting 70-69 at Sebonack Golf Club, the 25-year-old from England found herself playing in the final grouping of the third round with I.K. Kim and Inbee Park, the world’s top-ranked player who is attempting to make history this weekend with her third consecutive major win.
But neither the company nor the surroundings fazed Ewart Shadoff, a second-year player on the LPGA Tour. She shot 74 to remain in third place heading into the final round.
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous on the first tee, she admitted after completing her round Saturday. But the first couple holes just steadied me, and I actually had a lot of fun out there. I just tried to stay with [Park]. You always have to expect that she's going to hole every putt because most of the time she does.
Ewart Shadoff actually matched Park’s score on the outward nine, shooting 1-under 34. But as Park finished strong with three birdies in her final five holes, Ewart Shadoff faded with bogeys on her final three holes.
I actually had a lot of fun out there, she said. It was a good experience.I kind of had a little meltdown at the end, but I'm excited for tomorrow.
The grand stage of the most prestigious championship in women’s golf is a long way from Ewart Shadoff’s childhood. More people watched her play on Saturday than live in her hometown of Middelham, located in northern England.
The tiny hamlet with a population of 840 thrives on the horse-racing industry. Although she spent her childhood around horses, Ewart Shadoff chased her dream of playing golf despite the obstacles.
[The weather]’s pretty terrible, she said of Middleham. I honestly don’t know how I stuck with it, because it’s always raining and it’s cold in the winter time. I think just playing well and playing good shots kept bringing me back.
After falling in love with the University of New Mexico during a recruiting trip, Ewart Shadoff traded in her galoshes for sandals and headed to the desert Southwest. In the arid climate, she continued to develop her game, winning five tournaments – the most in program history – and being named All-American twice.
She now lives in Sarasota, Fla., and is continuing her golf education on the LPGA Tour, where she seems to relish the biggest tournaments. Earlier this year, Ewart Shadoff shot 68 to lead after the first round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship before tying for seventh, her best finish of the year.
I was up there at the Kraft this year and the Kia [where she also tied for seventh] last year, so all of this is great experience for me, she said. It's what I need to be able to win in the future. It's mentally tough when you're out in the lead and just trying to stay strong and go after it instead of being defensive.
Ewart Shadoff plans to play aggressively in the final round as she aims to join 2012 U.S. Senior Open champion Roger Chapman and 2013 U.S. Open winner Justin Rose as English victors of the USGA’s flagship championships. Although she doesn’t know Rose, Ewart Shadoff is elated that the U.S. Open trophy is back in England for the first time since 1971.
That was awesome, she said of Rose’s win at Merion two weeks ago. Finally got a major winner. He played great and it was good for golf and our country.
Stephanie Breslof is a Communications intern for the USGA. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.