Minnesota Golf Association

Ace Helps Propel Olson into U.S. Women's Open Lead

December 10, 2020


HOUSTON, Texas -- Amy Olson picked a good time to make her fifth hole in one. It came Thursday on her seventh hole in the first round of the 2020 U.S. Women's Open, and it started her on a spree of 4 under for four holes. She went on from there to shoot a 4-under-par 67 on the Cypress Creek Course at Champions Golf Club, which was good enough for a one-shot lead.

Three players -- former British Women's Open champion Hinako Shibuno, Moriya Jutanugarn and A Lim Kim -- are tied for second at 68, and there is a seven-way tie for fifth at 69 that includes the 2020 British Women's Open champ, Sophia Popov.  

Olson,  28, a former two-time Minnesota PGA Junior Girls winner (2008 & '09) from Oxford, N.D., who also won the U.S. Junior Girls Championship in 2009 and went on to set an NCAA record with 20 victories in her four years at North Dakota State University, has been in similar positions before. In 2011, during the summer between her sophomore and junior seasons at NDSU, she shot 69 in the first round of this tournament and was one stroke out of first place. She shot 80 the next day and finished 63rd. 

In 2018, she played in the final group on Sunday at the first women's major of the year, the ANA Inspiration, and tied for ninth. Later that season, she led another major, the Evian Championship, with one hole to go, but made a double bogey and lost to Angela Stanford. 

So she keeps getting closer, and in the process she's made more than $1.5 million in her seven years on the LPGA Tour. But she still hasn't won.

On Thursday, she started on the back nine and bogeyed her second hole, No. 11, a 445-yard par 4, failing to get up and down after hitting her second shot into a greenside bunker. She was still 1 over when she arrived at the 16th hole, a 139-yard par 3. There wasn't much of a breeze, but it was coming from the right; so she decided to hit a fade and hold the shot into the wind.

"It landed two paces short of the flag, had some good spin on it and just trickled in," she said after the round. "We saw the whole thing, which was fun."

She followed her second ace in competition with a birdie at the 411-yard, par-4 eighth hole, failed to birdie the par-5 ninth (475 yards), but she birdied the 433-yard, par-4 first, which got her to 3 under. 

Meanwhile, Megan Khang, who started on the front nine and birdied four of her first five holes, had added a birdie at the 10th (433 yards, par 4), which put her at 5 under. But she, like Olson two hours earlier, bogeyed the 11th, and that dropped her back into a tie for the lead with Olson, two-time major champion Brittany Lincicome and 19-year-old Japanese star Yuka Saso, all at 3 under.

That was where the lead stayed for quite a while. The names on the leader board at 3 under kept changing -- Lincicomb and Kang both made double bogeys at the 18th (388 yards, par 4), and they finished with 70's, tied for 12th -- but Olson eventually separated herself by making a 35-foot birdie putt at the 158-yard, par-3 eighth hole. So she was 4 under for the day -- and 3 under on the par-3's. 

This is the latest that a major professional golf championship has ever been played, a result of Covid 19 (the Women's Open was originally scheduled to be played in July). Because of that, there isn't nearly as much daylight as there would have been without the schedule change. Consequently, the USGA is using two courses at Champions -- Cypress Creek and Jackrabbit -- for the first two rounds, in order to get the 156 players in the field around 18 holes before sunset. The last two rounds will be played entirely at Cypress Creek.


75th U.S. Women's Open

At Champions Golf Club

Cypress Creek (par 71)

Jackrabbit (par 71)

Houston, Texas

First-round results

1. Amy Olson                      67


T2. Moriya Jutanugarn         68

T2. A. Lim Kim                      68

T2. Hinako Shibuna             68

T5. Yuka Saso                     69

T5. Sophia Popov                69

T5. Charley Hull                   69

T5., Gerina Piller                  69

T5. Patty Tavatanakit           69

T5. Linn Grant (a)                69

T5. Linnea Strom                 69

T137. Kim Kaufman           78

 


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