5 Things You Need to Know for Round 4 July 14, 2018 | WHEATON, ILL. By Ron Sirak

Whose name will be atop the big leader board following the final round of the U.S. Senior Women's Open on Sunday? (USGA/Chris Keane)

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The purpose of national championships is to identify the best players, and looking at the leader board after 54 holes of the U.S. Senior Women’s Open it’s difficult to say that historic Chicago Golf Club has not done that. In conversations with players early in the week about who might win this inaugural event, the names Laura Davies, Juli Inkster and Trish Johnson came up time after time. And those are the top three as we head to the final round. Here are five things to look for on Sunday:

They Call It Stormy Sunday: The players caught a break on Saturday when the start of the third round was moved up and players went in threesomes off two tees because of the possibility of storms. There was rain in the morning but the round was played – and more importantly, completed – in near-perfect scoring conditions. Now the hope is for similar good fortune for Sunday’s final round. Once again, the start of play will be moved up and once again they will go in threesomes off two tees in a race against the weather. The final group goes at 9:09 a.m. CDT and play will be shown on FS1 as planned from 4-6 p.m. EDT.

Familiarity Breeds Respect: For the second consecutive day, Laura Davies, Juli Inkster and Trish Johnson will play together on Sunday, and for the fourth time this week, two old foes – Davies and Inkster – will be in the same group. With Davies sitting on a five-stroke lead over Inkster, seven clear of Johnson and nine in front of Danielle Ammaccapane, the championship will almost certainly be decided in the final group. “She played really well,” Inkster said of Davies’ 66 on Saturday. “She's going to be tough. I just need to make some more putts.” For Davies there will be the added burden of playing with a big lead. “I’ve guaranteed myself a sleepless night now, which is probably not what you want,” she said. “I'm not saying I’d rather be tied for the lead, but you sleep a lot better when you’re tied for the lead. It’s there for me to lose now.”

A Matter of Course: One of the stars of the week has been Chicago Golf Club, which won rave reviews from the players. Responding to the firm and fast conditions, the USGA has played it slightly longer and it will be interesting to see what will be in store for the players on Sunday. The green complexes are so brilliantly designed, with subtle slopes and false fronts, that challenging hole locations are easy to find. The four par-3s are among the best sets of short holes anywhere and the par-5 holes could be set up to be reachable in two shots, creating the opportunity for those chasing Davies to make up ground. “Yeah, I wouldn't mind a bit of overnight rain again,” said Davies. “That would suit me down to the ground. Distance isn’t a problem. We all knew distance wasn’t a problem this week, it’s finding the right part of the green and putting decent.” Finding the right part of the green is truly the challenge at Chicago Golf Club, and that could make Sunday especially interesting.

The Long and Short of It: An indication of the clever design of Chicago Golf Club is the fact that one of the longest players in women’s golf – Laura Davies – is leading and one of the shortest – Rosie Jones – is in seventh place. That’s an indication that there are multiple options for attacking the course. You can fly it to the proper quadrant of the green or you can chase it back to the hole location. “I’m almost 60 and I’m not getting longer, I’m getting shorter,” said Jones. “When I woke up and looked out the window at 5 this morning, I said, no, not rain, not before we play. But that’s the way everybody is going to play it. It’s playing a lot easier for the longer hitters just because they’re going to have shorter irons and they can take it right at the pin.”

An International Affair: This inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open has captured the true flavor of the global nature of golf – especially the women’s game. Among those in the top 10 are players from the United States, England, Sweden, Japan and Peru.

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

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