Choi Enjoys Historic Women's Open Round July 11, 2015 | Lancaster, Pa. By Stuart Hall

Chella Choi became the first player in U.S. Women's Open history to card a nine-hole score of 29 on her way to a Saturday 64. (USGA/Hunter Martin)

While focused on the third round of the U.S. Women’s Open, Chella Choi was not keenly aware of her score or its historical significance.

She only knew the birdies were piling up. 

"I made birdie a lot today, maybe nine birdies,” said the 24-year-old from the Republic of Korea of her 6-under 64 on Saturday.  

She made five of them in a six-hole stretch, part of an outward-nine 29 that surpassed the championship’s nine-hole scoring record. Choi offset bogeys on Nos. 11 and 15 with a trio of incoming birdies, which gave her  an opportunity to par No. 18 and tie Helen Alfredsson record score of 63, set in 1994.

Choi ran her long birdie putt past the hole, and her uphill, 3-foot par putt lipped out. 

"I didn't know that," she said when asked if she knew what was at stake on the final hole. "But now it's so exciting, so close."

With the 64, Choi joins a trio of players with the second-lowest score for any round in the U.S. Women’s Open. Kelli Kuehne, Lorie Kane and Becky Iverson each shot 64 in the 1999 U.S. Women’s Open at Old Waverly Golf Club in West Point, Miss. She also broke the third-round scoring record of 65 shot by Na Yeon Choi at Blackwolf Run in Kohler, Wis., three years ago.

Choi Talks About Her Historic Round

Five players shared the nine-hole record of 30 first achieved by. Pamela Wright in 1994 at Indianwood Golf & Country Club in Lake Orion, Mich. Most recently,  Jodi Ewart Shadoff carded a 30 two years ago at Sebonack Golf Club.

Choi’s personal-best round is a 10-under 62 in the third round of last year’s ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open. Her previous low round in a U.S. Women’s Open was a 69 in last year’s third round at Pinehurst No. 2. 

Choi began the day at 4 over, 11 shots back of 36-hole leader Amy Yang. Playing in the round’s fifth pairing with Karine Icher, of France, Choi moved to within five strokes of Yang before the leader had teed off. 

Choi credited her putting for the turnaround. After averaging 31 putts in the opening two rounds, Choi needed only 26 on Saturday. 

“She made all the birdies I missed,” said Icher, who posted a  71. “It seemed like on the front nine we were always together and she just made a lot of them. She was just very hot with the putter."

Pleased of late with her overall ball-striking but not her putting, Choi recently made a putter change to a model that is slightly heavier and an inch longer than her previous one.

"So my stroke is better, easy stroke,” Choi said. 

The favorite of her nine birdies was an uphill 24-footer on the 184-yard, par-3 eighth hole that featured 5 feet of left-to-right break.

Choi took the missed opportunity at history in stride.

"Tomorrow I have one more day, right?” she said. 

Stuart Hall is a North Carolina-based freelance writer whose work frequently appears on USGA websites.

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