U.S. Women’s Open: Feng clinging to one-stroke lead
BEDMINSTER, N. J. — Shanshan Feng is going to have the president of the United States looking over her shoulder in the final round of the U.S. Women’s Open, and probably a lot of South Korean fans, too.
Feng, 27 and from China, rolled in a short birdie putt on the final hole Saturday to take a one-shot lead after three rounds of the biggest tournament in women’s golf.
Teenager Hye-Jin Choi and Amy Yang were tied for second. The top six players chasing Feng are all from South Korea, with the best the U.S. has to offer in eighth place. That’s Cristie Kerr, who was five shots off the lead.
It should make for an interesting final day in a tournament that had an even bigger stage with Trump in attendance. Feng shot a 1-under 71 to reach 9-under 207 at the president’s Trump National Golf Club.
“Coming to this week, I didn’t have any expectation at all,” said Feng, who has led from the start after shooting a 66 in her quest for a second major. “I just — I wanted to bring out my ‘A’ game. And then I think I did really well for the first three days, and then I’m going to stick to my game plan. I just focus on my own game and let’s see what happens.”
Choi and Yang each shot 70.
Sung Hyun Park, the top rookie on the LPGA Tour, was 6 under after a 67. Top-ranked So Yeon Ryu (71), Mirim Lee (67) and Jeongeun6 Lee (73) were 5 under.
Kerr, a former Open winner and a member at this course, was tied at 4 under with Spain’s Carlota Ciganda (72).
Feng had a one-shot lead after the first round and a two-shot margin at the halfway point, but she just could not hit it close in the third round. She had a couple of 10- to 15- footers for birdie on the back nine that never threatened the hole and she did not convert until hitting her third on the par-5 18th to about 5 feet.
Choi, the 17-year-old who is the world’s No. 2 ranked amateur, might have been the most consistent player after bogeying her first hole. She birdied Nos. 8, 11 and 16 and just missed another on the final hole.
Yang, who has four top-five finishes in the last five years including seconds in 2012 and ‘15, had a roller-coaster round. She had five 5s, a bogey and a double bogey, which came on No. 3 after a bad shot out of a bunker.
Park played the back nine in 6 under. She led after 36 holes in this event last year and finished third, two shots out of a playoff.
“Yes, quite a few Korean players on the top leaderboard,” said Park, who said the course is similar to some in South Korea. “I think most of them, if not all, have strong capability to play really well.”
Ryu, the only two- time winner this year on the LPGA Tour, had three birdies after two early bogeys.
Mirim Lee had six birdies in the last 11 holes to get into contention.
Kerr had three birdies and bogey in the first six holes and then parred out the rest of the way.
“I feel pretty good,” Kerr said. “I’m going out there doing my thing and I’m trying to be in a good mental space where I’m not putting pressure on myself.”
Stacy Lewis, the former No.1 ranked women who has not won since 2014, played her first 10 holes in 5 under and moved within a shot of the lead heading to No. 11. The f0rmer University of Arkansas, Fayetteville standout had birdied four consecutive holes to pull within a shot of Feng, a run that included a 40-foot putt on No. 9.
Then, her day unraveled. After a birdie on No. 10, she made a triple bogey on the par-4, 11th hole, chipping her third shot from behind the green off the front and leaving her chip back up short. A bogey on the 12th hole dropped her five shots off the lead.
After five consecutive pars, she hit her approach into the water on the par-5 18th and closed with a 10.
Lewis ended up with a 4-over 76 to drop to 2 over — 11 shots off the lead.
The former No. 1-ranked player has 11 victories, including two majors. She has finished second 12 times since her last LPGA Tour victory at the Northwest Arkansas Championship in 2014.