On a day in which the thermometer climbed into the mid-90s at Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club, play in the Round 1 of the 77th U.S. Women’s Open Presented by ProMedica sizzled just as intensely, with no one hotter than Mina Harigae (64). History was everywhere on Thursday at Pine Needles, from the first tee where seven-time USGA champion Carol Semple Thompson served as an honorary starter to the firm, fast fairways and demanding greens that welcomed back Annika Sorenstam, who won the U.S. Women’s Open here in 1996, one of three times she claimed the championship.
As anyone who has played a USGA stroke-play championship can attest, not only is golf skill tested, but so is patience and perseverance. There are still 54 holes to play and the stamina of the competitors will be explored as well as their shotmaking. Part of the compelling drama of the U.S. Women’s Open is that there are four distinct chapters. On Thursday, the preliminary plotline was established. Friday will set the stage for the weekend.
Here are 3 Things to Know about Round 2 of the U.S. Women’s Open Presented by ProMedica.
The temperature won’t be quite as hot on Friday, but the players will be feeling heat of a different sort as they try to be among the low 60 and ties who make the cut for the weekend. There are several big names who shot over par on Thursday and will need to pay particular attention to the leader board on Friday. Ariya Jutanugarn, So Yeon Ryu, Michelle Wie West, Annika Sorenstam and defending champion Yuka Saso are among the past champions of the U.S. Women’s Open who enter Day 2 on the outside looking in.
Keep an eye on the leader board and watch as the cut number develops. Certainly, there will be a lot of players – and their caddies – doing exactly that.
Only once in 76 previous U.S. Women’s Open Championships has an amateur taken home the trophy. That was in 1967 when Catherine Lacoste of France won at The Homestead in Hot Springs, Va., outlasting Susie Maxwell Berning and Beth Stone by two strokes. The 65 that gave Ingrid Lindblad of Sweden the Round 1 lead was the lowest score ever shot by an amateur in the championship. Her solid play – her only bogey was on the second hole she played – and the stoic way in which she talked about it afterward were strong indications that she might be in it for the long haul.
An obvious question to ask is whether a 22-year-old amateur can hold up for 72 holes to take this demanding championship. While only time can answer that question, history tells us that 55 years ago a 22-year-old amateur did exactly that. Most players will tell you that the key to winning is to give yourself a chance to win. So far, Lindblad has done exactly that.
Lexi Thompson has had her heart broken twice by the U.S. Women’s Open, first at the Country Club of Charleston in 2019 and then at The Olympic Club last year, when she shot 41 over the final nine holes and still missed a playoff by only one stroke. But if there is one thing Thompson has shown over the course of a career whose length belies the fact she is still only 27 years old – this is, after all, her 16th U.S. Women’s Open – it is that she is as resilient as they come.
She proved that again on Thursday when she shot a near-flawless 68, proving once again that she is one of the best in the game at rebounding from disappointment. Asked about the past, Thompson said: “And as far as last year, it's over with, it's this year, and I took it, I learned from it, and I moved on.” Those sound like the words of a champion.
Ron Sirak is a Massachusetts-based freelance writer who frequently contributes to USGA digital channels.