The final round of the U.S. Women’s Open could come down to three players — one who has led throughout the tournament this week, one who has been on the tantalizing cusp of winning a U.S. Open for the past five years and a 17-year-old amateur.
Shanshan Feng has led the tournament wire to wire and is in the driver’s seat with a one-shot lead at 9-under.
After parring her first 17 holes, Feng birdied the par-5 18th to take a one-shot lead over Amy Yang — who had two runner-up finishes, a third and a fourth in her past five Opens — and 17-year-old amateur Hye-Jin Choi from South Korea, both of whom are 8-under.
Choi is vying to become the first amateur to win a U.S. Women’s Open since Catherine Lacoste in 1967.
“How old is she — like 17 or 18?’’ asked Yang, who was paired with Choi Saturday. “She was very mature out there. She hits [it] very accurate [and] long and her putter was really good. I think she would be a great player, like in the future.’’
Or on Sunday.
Cristie Kerr, who won the U.S. Women’s Open a decade ago, is in position to do it again, standing at 4-under entering the final round after shooting 70 on Saturday, leaving her five shots out of the lead.
One of the bizarre scenes to the day was Kerr, after her round and after doing interviews, being frisked and wanded by security before entering the special suite where President Trump was watching from adjacent to the 15th and 16th holes. Kerr, who has a personal relationship with Trump and is a member at the course, was not even allowed to take her Diet Coke into the special box.
“Obviously, I know him fairly well,’’ she said. “I don’t see him that often, but he’s a huge supporter of women’s golf and just fun.’’
Kerr was one of four players from the field who were invited into Trump’s private suite, along with Lexi Thompson, Paula Creamer and Suzann Pettersen.
Kerr has been battling back spasms all week, which makes is remarkable that she remains in contention.
While Kerr was playing No. 11, there was some commotion in the sky, which she insisted was not a distraction.
“A little plane ventured into air space they weren’t supposed to be in,’’ she said. “They chased them right out. It was kind of cool to see. It wasn’t distracting. I had to look at something else other than what was going on on that hole.’’
She was referring to the triple bogey her playing partner Stacy Lewis carded on the hole.
Lewis had a wild day that ended badly. With five birdies in a span of seven holes from No. 4 to No. 10, Lewis charged to within one shot of the lead at 7-under before imploding on her final few holes.
After her birdie on No. 10 to get to 7-under, Lewis took a triple on No. 11 to fall to 4-under and then bogeyed No. 12 to slip to 3-under. Then, after pars on Nos. 13 through 17, she took a 10 on the par-5 18th hole to finish with a 76 and is 2-over and out of contention entering Sunday’s final round.
“It was a shame to see what happened [to Lewis] on the back,’’ Kerr said. “You never want to see that happen to anybody. That’s golf. It’s a four-letter word.’’
When asked if the plane situation on No. 11 distracted her, Lewis declined comment after her round.
Sung Hyun Park has a score to settle.
A year ago, playing in her first U.S. Women’s Open, Park was in prime position to win and she faltered in the final round to finish a respectable — but disappointing — tie for third after a final-round 74.
“I don’t have any regrets and I think that was a valuable experience, precious experience for me,’’ she said.
Park, a 23-year-old from South Korea who lives in Orlando, Fla., again has herself in position to win the biggest tournament in women’s golf entering the final round with a chance to win thanks to the third-round 5-under 67.
Park’s 67 got her to 6-under for the tournament, three shots off the lead. Her round was highlighted by six birdies on the back-nine en route to a 30.
Marina Alex, the local product from Wayne, N.J., had a rollercoaster round of 73 that left her at 2-under, just out of realistic contention to win.
“It was a little crazy,’’ she said. “I got off to a pretty poor start. I guess I was just nervous, to be honest. I don’t know, just kind of all hit me. I’m thrilled to be somewhere in a decent position going into [Sunday]. I’m hoping that I can get off to a better start and not let the whole environment kind of get me out of my element.
“There’s a ton of people and a ton of support, but it adds a lot of pressure and some nervousness to that.’’
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