U.S. WOMEN'S OPEN
U.S. Women's Open Sunday: Five Things to Watch
June 3, 2018 | Shoal Creek, Ala.
By Joey Flyntz and Scott Lipsky, USGA
After heavy rain again pelted Shoal Creek on Friday night, play in the 73rd U.S. Women’s Championship is back on track. Players returned to the course Saturday at 7:45 a.m. CDT to resume the rain-interrupted second round, and Round 3 was completed afterward.
Australian Sarah Jane Smith, the 18- and 36-hole leader, struggled to a 2-over 74, while Ariya Jutanugarn, of Thailand, fired a blistering 5-under 67 to claim the lead. Here are five things to watch as Jutanugarn attempts to make history on Sunday:
Comeback in the Offing?: Ariya Jutanugarn leads Sarah Jane Smith by four strokes entering the final round. While Smith certainly faces an uphill climb, it would not be unprecedented if she were to rally for victory. The championship record for biggest final-round comeback is five strokes, which has been done six times:
Best Comeback by Winner, Final Round
5 strokes, Murle Lindstrom (78-74-76-73), Dunes G. & B.C., Myrtle Beach, S.C., 1962
5 strokes, Donna Caponi (74-76-75-73), Scenic Hills C.C., Pensacola, Fla., 1969
5 strokes, Jane Geddes (74-74-70-69), NCR C.C., Kettering, Ohio, 1986
5 strokes, Betsy King (72-71-71-70), Atlanta Athletic Club (Riverside Course), Duluth, Ga., 1990
5 strokes, Lauri Merten (71-71-70-68), Crooked Stick G.C., Carmel, Ind., 1993
5 strokes, Annika Sorenstam (67-71-72-68), Broadmoor G.C. (East Course) Colorado Springs, Colo., 1995
The Name’s Korda … Nelly Korda: While the talk of the U.S. Women’s Open has been one half of a sister tandem – Ariya Jutanugarn is at the top of the leader board while older sister Moriya will enter Sunday tied for 49th – there is another half of a sibling duo who is having a solid week at Shoal Creek. Nelly Korda, 19, the younger sister of Jessica Korda, has posted rounds of 70-74-71, and heads into the final round tied for ninth at 1-under 215. Jessica meanwhile, had a rough time of it this week, as rounds of 77-73 resulted in a missed cut. Nelly has performed consistently in the U.S. Women’s Open, having made the cut in all three previous appearances, dating back to when she was a 14-year-old in 2013. Her best finish, however, was a tie for 44th last year.
Nelly is still looking for her first LPGA Tour win, while Jessica has five. Jessica’s best U.S. Women’s Open finish is tied for seventh (2013), giving Nelly an opportunity to earn some bragging rights over her big sister.
International Flavor: Heading into Sunday’s final round, the leader board has the feel of an Olympic event, with players from six different countries in the top 8 and 10 different countries in the top 22. Leader Ariya Jutanugarn is one of two players from Thailand in the top 14, along with amateur Patty Tavatanakit, a rising sophomore at UCLA.
The other countries represented in the top 22 are: the Republic of Korea (7), the United States of America (5), Australia (2), Chinese Taipei (1), England (1), Japan (1), Spain (1), Sweden (1) and Switzerland (1). Seven of the past 10 U.S. Women’s Open champions are from the Republic of Korea, including three players on this list – Inbee Park (2008 and 2013), Eun-Hee Ji (2009) and So Yeon Ryu (2011).
The Race for Low Amateur: In addition to U.S. Women’s Open champion, there’s another coveted designation that a group of competitors will be vying for at Shoal Creek on Sunday. A total of seven amateurs made the cut, and five are within four strokes of the lead for low-amateur honors. Heading into Sunday, Patty Tavatanakit leads the way, tied for ninth through three rounds with a 54-hole total of 1-under 215. In close pursuit are Stanford University’s Albane Valenzuela, the 2017 U.S. Women’s Amateur runner-up, and incoming Harvard University freshman Elizabeth Wang, who are one and two strokes back, respectively. University of Alabama rising junior and local favorite Kristen Gillman, the 2014 U.S. Women’s Amateur champion, is four strokes back at 3-over 219.
Tune In: Live coverage of the final round of the Women’s Open begins at 2 p.m. EDT on Fox, with accompanying live-streaming video on uswomensopen.com of Inbee Park and Madelene Sagstrom. Visit uswomensopen.com for tee times, news, live scoring updates, photos and video highlights.