U.S. Women’s Open: Feng cling­ing to one-stroke lead

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - ARKANSAS OUTDOORS -

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.


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