U.S. SENIOR WOMEN'S OPEN
Final Round: 3 Things to Know
May 19, 2019 | Southern Pines, N.C.
By Ron Sirak
Woven into the intricate fabric of a major championship is the unshakable reality of anticipation for the final round. That will be the case on Sunday at Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club when the second U.S. Senior Women’s Open comes to a close.
With nearly all the key names from last year’s inaugural edition at Chicago Golf Club back on the leader board, the stage is set for a Sunday showdown.
Here are three things to know as the championship approaches its conclusion.
Two players extremely familiar with each other will be in Sunday’s final pairing – Trish Johnson of England and Helen Alfredsson of Sweden. The one-time Solheim Cup teammates for Europe are tied at even par 213 going to the final round, four strokes clear of Juli Inkster, who in September will captain the United States Solheim Cup team for the third consecutive time.
One thing to keep on eye on with both of the co-leaders early on in Sunday’s final round is how they handle the greens. The devious contours of the Donald Ross design can wreak havoc with a player’s head, and a couple of short misses on the opening holes can make for a long day. The mind games will begin on the first green.
On the Outside Looking In
This appears to be one of those championships in which the degree of drama that unfolds on Sunday depends on whether or not the leaders come back to the pack. With Johnson and Alfredsson four strokes clear of Inkster, it would seem like it’s a three-woman race. But a stumble by the co-leaders would let a lot of people back into the hunt.
Nanci Bowen is five strokes back at 218, with defending champion Laura Davies, Danielle Ammaccapane and Jane Crafter at 219. While six strokes may seem like a lot of ground to make up, 219 is only two strokes out of third place. There could be some surprising drama on what is supposed to be another toasty late-spring day in the Sandhills. It’s in the hands of the duo atop the leaderboard.
No Sophomore Slump
Following the smashing success last year of the inaugural U.S. Senior Women’s Open at Chicago Golf Club was a daunting task, but the Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club pulled it off. The golf course was every inch a major championship test and the surrounding community is a golf mecca matched by few anywhere in the world. This was a rousing encore to a hit show.
Next year the U.S. Senior Women’s Open goes to Brooklawn Country Club in Fairfield, Conn., another course steeped in history. Founded in 1895, the A.W. Tillinghast design has been the site of four USGA championships – the 1974 U.S. Junior Amateur; the 1979 U.S. Women’s Open; the 1987 U.S. Senior Open and the 2003 U.S. Girls’ Junior. Now we just have to see who will be defending her title.
Ron Sirak is a Massachusetts-based freelance writer who frequently contributes to USGA digital channels.