Lang Positions Herself Well to Make Run in Final Round July 10, 2016 | SAN MARTIN, CALIF. By Tom Mackin

Brittany Lang embraces the atmosphere of USGA championships and has taken a liking to the challenges of CordeValle. (USGA/Steven Gibbons)

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Ask Brittany Lang what she likes about the U.S. Women’s Open and she will quickly rephrase the question thusly: “What is it that I don’t like?”

That enthusiasm for the championship may be one reason she is tied for fourth at 5-under-par 211 going into Sunday’s final round at CordeValle. Another is a stellar track record that began with her first U.S. Women’s Open in 2005, when Lang finished second with fellow amateur Morgan Pressel at Cherry Hills Country Club in Cherry Hills Village, Colo., two strokes behind champion Birdie Kim.

“I remember hitting next to [U.S. Women’s Open champions] Annika [Sorenstam] and Meg Mallon and all the great players I used to watch that year,” she recalled. “I was thinking how cool is it seeing them 10 feet from me? I was in awe. It was a beautiful place and I was so nervous all week, but I just did it.”

She probably hasn’t felt such awe since, not after compiling three additional top-15 finishes in this championship, along with one LPGA Tour win and an undefeated singles record for the USA in three Solheim Cups.

But the U.S. Women’s Open is clearly the 30-year-old’s favorite event and she would love to make it her first major-championship victory.

“I love the USGA,” said Lang, who played on the victorious 2004 USA Curtis Cup Team and was medalist in the 2004 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links before advancing to the quarterfinals. “I have a lot of respect for them and how they set a course up and how they run things. It's always changing. It's difficult but it's fair, and I just really like that.”

Lang relied on a consistent all-around game for a 68 on Saturday, rebounding from the 3-over 75 on Friday. “I made a long putt to get the momentum going on the sixth hole and played pretty steady,” said Lang, who is tied for third overall in putting for the championship. “I didn't really do anything stupid or put myself in any bad spots. I let myself be able to make pars and just have really a comfortable day.”

That ease began well before her first tee shot. “I thought I was going to shoot 5 or 6 under. I really felt good about it. I thought starting at 9 a.m. was such a good time. The greens were going to be soft and some of the pins were accessible, and I was just playing really good. But I'm very happy with 4 under today.”

Lang expects the pressure to ratchet up while playing in the penultimate group Sunday with past Women’s Open runners-up Amy Yang and Angela Stanford, starting at 10:18 a.m. PDT.

“Every part of you wants to be pulled to the outcome and thinking wouldn't it be so great to win,” said Lang, who has been a model of consistency, finishing in the top 60 for 10 consecutive seasons on the LPGA Tour, with a high of 15th in 2009. “But the more you do that, the quicker you're going to move down the leader board. You just have to have a lot of discipline. It's something I'm working on. I've only won once (the 2012 Manulife Financial LPGA Classic in Canada), so obviously I'm not doing a very good job with it. It will be a good test tomorrow.”

Lang’s plans for the final round center around the same process she has used when near the lead in previous majors.

“I've been here before and I think you really have to just get to work on what you're doing,” she said. “It's hard on Sundays, of course. But I'm just excited to be up there, to be somewhere in the mix. And I'm playing good, so we'll see what happens.”

Arizona resident Tom Mackin is a frequent contributor to USGA websites. Email him at temackinjr@gmail.com

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