Minnesota Golf Association

Thompson Takes over Top Spot at Women's Open

June 5, 2021

SAN FRANCISCO -- The long hitters weren't supposed to have an advantage this week at The Olympic Club during the U.S. Women's Open. Hitting fairways was going to be the key to victory. 

But what if one of the bombers hits a lot of fairways?

That was what happened on Saturday. Lexi Thompson, one of the longest hitters on the LPGA Tour, averaged 288 yards off the tee, and she hit 9 of 14 fairways. When she did miss a fairway, she was able to gouge her second shot onto the green, or close enough to save par -- basically, what Bryson DeChambeau did to win the Men's Open last fall. The result was the first bogey-free round of the tournament, a 5-under-par 66 that propelled the 26-year-old veteran of 15 Women's Opens to the top of the leaderboard.

Thompson is 7 under for 54 holes, at 206. Yuka Saso is one behind at 207. 

Saso, another long hitter -- she modeled her swing after Rory McElroy's -- started the day with a one-shot lead over Jeongeun Lee6, who won this tournament two years ago. Saso birdied the 530-yard, par-5 first hole and bogeyed the 390-yard, par-4 fourth. But the 19-year-old LPGA of Japan Tour regular  birdied the short par-4 seventh (263 yards) and the 10th (400, par 4) to get to 8 under for the tournament, and led by two at that point.

Meanwhile, up ahead, Thompson was lighting up the scoreboard. She had begun the day four behind, but she played the front nine in 3 under, which narrowed the gap between Saso and her. Thompson made her fourth birdie of the day at the 14th. When Saso bogeyed the 13th and 14th, she and Thompson were tied at minus 6.

Thompson, who has one major victory to her credit (the 2014 Kraft Nabisco Championship, which is now the ANA Inspiration), reached the 495-yard, par-5 17th in two and two-putted for a birdie. Saso got up and down from behind the 17th green to match Thompson's birdie, and pull even, but she blocked a wedge shot at the 18th (330 yards, par 4), bogeyed the hole and slipped back into second place. 

The youngest contender for the crown this week, Megha Ganne, 17, an amateur who had to come through a 3-for-1 playoff in Sectional Qualifying just to get into the field at the Open, overcame a less-than-great day of ball-striking -- she hit 5 fairways and 7 greens in regulation -- and posted a 72. So she's at 210, tied for third, along with Lee6, who shot 73. 

Amy Olson, the former North Dakota State All-American who tied for second in the 2020 Women's Open last December, moved up from a tie for 28th into a tie for 12th with a 70. That put her at 215, which may be a little too far back, although the record for biggest comeback in an LPGA event is 10 shots.

Sarah Burnham, the only other player besides Thompson to shoot 66 this week, had used that to move up into a tie for 12th on Friday. But she got on the bogey train early Saturday and had a hard time getting off. She bogeyed 3, 4, 5  and 6, which took her off the leaderboard. The former Minnesota state high school champ -- and three-time MGA Women's Player of the Year -- birdied the par-3 eighth hole, but she suffered consecutive bogeys two more times, at 10 and 11, and at 15 and 16. A valedictory birdie at the 18th gave her a 78, and she's now tied for 33rd at 220.

2021 U.S. Women's Open 

At The Olympic Club

Par 71, 6,362 yards

San Francisco

Third-round results 

1. Lexi Thompson                69-71-66--206

2. Yuka Saso                        69-67-71--207

T3. Jeongeun Lee6              70-67-73--210

T3. Megha Ganne (A)          67-71-72--210

5. Shanshan Feng                69-70-72--211

T6. Megan Khang                 68-70-74--212

T6. Nasa Hataoka                 72-69-71--212

8. Inbee Park                        71-69-72--213

T12. Amy Olson                  73-72-70--215

T33. Sarah Burnham          76-66-78--220

Missed cut (148)

T75. Bella McCauley            80-70--150

T100. Kim Kaufman             74-79--153 


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