Former NDSU Golfer Olson, Tour Rookie Tardy Qualify for U.S. Women's Open

May 22, 2023 | 6 min.
By Nick Hunter

  MENDOTA HEIGHTS, Minn. – A final-round 66 Monday at Somerset Country Club earned former North Dakota State University golfer and LPGA veteran Amy Olson an invitation to her seventh U.S. Women’s Open.

But her appearance at the 2023 championship in July will be special in more ways than one. Olson will have the opportunity to play Pebble Beach Golf Links for the first time in her career, and do so while in special company.

Olson and her husband, Grant, are expecting their first child in September.

“I’m going to be seven months pregnant at [Pebble Beach],” she said. “I wanted a shot at it because it’s Pebble. That was the big motivation and it’ll be my last tournament before the baby comes, so it’s a good way to go out.

“I’ve always loved the U.S. Open. They always set up the course very fair, but hard. It’s usually not quirky—hit it straight, hit it long and two-putt a lot greens. That’s generally favored my style of game.”

In fact, Olson’s fondness for the national championship resulted in one of the best performances of her career, finishing tied for second in 2020 at Champions Golf Club in Houston.

Olson tallied an even par 72 to begin the day Monday before carding three birdies on each side during her final round for a bogey-free 66 to earn a two-stroke victory at 6-under 138.

“I had a hard time getting the ball to the hole initially, and finally got some putts to fall,” the 30-year-old Fargo, N.D., native said Monday. “I figured I’d have to get to about 4-under and get a little more aggressive with the putts, and it kind of worked.

“Yesterday during the practice round was the best I have been hitting it in about a year and a half. I struggled a lot last year with just hitting it solid. It was really nice to have everything come together today and post a 6-under. That’s a huge confidence boost for me.”

With three birdies already on her scorecard during the afternoon session Monday, Olson rolled in a 15-footer for her birdie to begin her back nine to reach 4-under par.

Nearly chipping in for eagle at her 12th hole, a tap-in birdie gave Olson the outright lead before she added one final birdie at her 14th hole by sinking her birdie chance from 10 feet to post a second-round 66 to earn medalist honors.

Breaking Juli Inkster’s NCAA record of 17 collegiate wins, Olson went on to claim 20 individual titles for the Bison before turning professional in 2013.

Despite more than 190 career starts on the LPGA Tour, 13 top-10 finishes are more than $2.5 million in career earnings, Olson said she’s never had a sense of job security during her career.

“I’ve always had to take my life one year at a time because I’ve never had status for more than one year,” Olson said. “I’ll take the same approach after the baby comes, but I’m pretty noncommittal one way or the other. Life’s going to change a lot.

“Going into Pebble, I’m going to do everything I can to stay healthy and do the best I can.”

Olson will be joined at the national championship by former University of Georgia golfer and LPGA Tour rookie Bailey Tardy, who sank a 20-foot birdie putt to survive a four-hole playoff with Jennifer Chang to qualify for her fourth U.S. Women’s Open.

“Today’s been one of the longest days of my life,” Tardy said. “I feel like you can get so worked up mentally during the first round, that by the second round, you’re just an airhead.

“I thought I paced myself well to be composed coming down the last six holes. You just get in your head so much when you’re playing well.”

A Norcross, Ga., native, Tardy got off to a fast start early Monday thanks to a string of five birdies mid-round, on her way to a 3-under 69 to share the 18-hole lead.

Carding three birdies against a pair of bogeys during the final round put her into a share of second with Chang at 4-under 140.

After missing a makeable par putt on her 36th hole of regulation and a short birdie putt on the first playoff hole, Tardy earned a bit of redemption at the fourth playoff hole when her birdie chance from 20 feet found the cup to clinch her spot at Pebble Beach.

“This course set up really well for my game and there were a lot of speed slots I could hit off the tee and get that advantage with my length,” Tardy said. “I missed a lot of putts, which you could probably say about any round, but I was proud of how I played.”

Tardy enjoyed a successful rookie season on the Epson Tour in 2022, making 21 starts with one victory to earn more than $200,000 in winnings.

However, in six starts this season on the LPGA Tour, Tardy has made just two cuts with her best performance coming at the LOTTE Championship, where she placed tied for 23rd.

“Playing on the LPGA Tour is a really big adjustment,” she said. “Going from three-day tournaments to four-day tournaments on paper doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it’s two less days of preparation with a travel day on Monday and the pro-am, which rookies usually don't play."

Tardy has missed the cut in each of her first three appearances at the U.S. Women’s Open, but is looking forward to her first go round as a professional.

“U.S. Opens are hard. With how long the par-3s and some of the par-4s were today, I think it’ll be set up fairly similar,” she said. “I’ve played Pebble a couple of times and played in tough conditions. Being able to spend the week in Pebble for a major championship is going to be really fun.”

Falling to Tardy during the playoff, Chang, who qualified for the 2019 U.S. Women’s Open and made the cut as an amateur, finished as first alternate, while Christina Kim, a three-time winner on the LPGA and three-time Solheim Cup participant, finished as second alternate.

A total of six U.S. Opens and one PGA Championship have been contested at famed Pebble Beach Golf Links, but the U.S. Women’s Open will be the first time the 104-year-old course will host a women’s major championship.

Australian Minjee Lee earned a four-stroke victory at the 2022 championship at Pine Needles Lodge and Golf Club in Southern Pines, N.C.

A week shy of her 18th birthday, Lee qualified for the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open as the top-ranked amateur in the world, shooting a final-round 66 at North Oaks Golf Club.


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Nick Hunter

Nick Hunter got his start covering sports for the Mankato Free Press while attending Minnesota State University, Mankato. 

He then contributed to several online outlets, including Bleacher Report, prior to turning his focus to golf.

Hunter enters his 12th season covering golf in Minnesota as news editor for the MGA website. He resides in New Prague with his wife and two sons.

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