Bailey Tardy, like a lot of top golfers, hates the idea of qualifying. Who wants to endure a 36-hole day of golf with only a handful of available spots? It’s why the 2016 USA Curtis Cup competitor didn’t even file an entry for the U.S. Women’s Open the past two seasons. Her last attempt at qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Open came in 2019. But with the 2023 championship at Pebble Beach, Tardy decided to file, albeit too late for some of her first choices to be available. So, the Norcross, Ga., resident went to Minnesota on an off week from the LPGA Tour, and after making bogey on her final hole, thought she was ticketed for first-alternate status. Except 2016 U.S. Girls’ Junior runner-up Jennifer Chang also had a hiccup on her 36th hole and the two needed four holes – the last one in near-darkness – to settle the second and final spot. Now, Tardy is atop  the leader board at a championship she’s playing for the fourth time, her first start as a professional. “I actually had a flight out that night,” said the 26-year-old. “I had showered, I had changed, I had packed my golf clubs, and I was out. Get me home. I'm done. I'm tired.” Then, Jennifer Chang three-putted that last hole, so I was like oh, my gosh, I've got to go hit golf balls. I've been sitting down for an hour and a half. I threw golf clothes back on, found my golf shoes, hit about 15 balls, and just went and played four more holes, which felt like an eternity.”