COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 7, 2011) -– Amy Anderson doesn’t mind – she’s going to savor the moment. Forget that the first round of the 66th U.S. Women’s Open at The Broadmoor was suspended until Friday due to lingering lightning in the area.
It’s not likely that an amateur player from Oxbow, N.D., a town of 300 people, has ever led the championship, incomplete or not. For the record, the youngest player to lead the field after the first round was Michelle Wie in 2005, at 15 years of age. Only one amateur in the championship’s history, Catherine Lacoste in 1967, has won the Women’s Open.
Anderson, the 2009 U.S. Girls’ Junior champion, walked off the 7,047-yard, par-71 East Course layout when the horns sounded in a tie for the lead with Cristie Kerr at two under par. Anderson had a 15-footer for birdie on the 13th hole when play was suspended. Kerr, the 2007 Women’s Open winner, was bunkered on No. 7 with two additional holes to play.
Play was first suspended at 12:47 MDT and then called for the day at 3:11. Play will commence Friday morning at 7:45. Twenty-five players finished their rounds, meaning 131 competitors were either on the course or awaiting their start.
Three players – 1997 U.S. Women’s Amateur winner Silvia Cavalleri, Ai Miyazato and two-time USGA champion Inbee Park – were tied at one under par, but their rounds were incomplete. In Cavalleri’s case, she had completed one hole, the par-4 10th.
“Shocking. I mean, I know there is a lot of stuff in the area, but it gets dark at 8:30 or 9 here. So it's shocking,” said Kerr of the suspension.
Shocked is how Anderson described her feelings when she witnessed her name atop the leaderboard on No. 7. Her brother/caddie Nathan pointed it out.
“That was surreal,” said the 18-year-old Anderson. “My brother and I joked, like, ‘Well, somebody better get a picture of that. It's not gonna be up there for very long.’ It's going to be up there all night, so I'm excited.”
Anderson’s highlights came on the 426-yard par-4 fifth hole and on No. 9, a 535-yard par 5. On No. 5, she stuck a 6-iron from 167 yards to within inches of the flagstick, which resulted in a birdie. On the ninth, she had 90 yards to the hole and stuck that approach shot to 1½ feet for a tap-in birdie. Anderson was the only player in the morning wave to not have a bogey.
Kerr left the course facing a tough up-and-down par from the front-right greenside bunker on No. 7; this after birdieing back-to-back holes to get to two under. She also made an impressive par save on the 142-yard par-3 fourth hole, executing a 15-foot flop shot that put her close to the flagstick before converting the putt.
“I dropped 10 balls in the practice round there and didn't get one of them up and down,” said Kerr.
The day had a glorious beginning as the sun splashed off Cheyenne Mountain. By noontime, clouds had moved in. Streaks of lightning pierced the air soon after, and fans and players were quickly ushered off the course.
Some players killed time playing cards, while others ate or mingled. It’s likely that some competitors will finish off their opening rounds on Friday and not play again until Saturday. Others could be looking at a 36-hole day. Mallory Blackwelder, who had a 15-foot downhill putt for bogey on No. 18 when play was halted, plans on coming to the course to complete her first round and then departing for the day.
“It’s frustrating that I was on the last green,” said Blackwelder. “There’s nothing you can do about it.”
Cindy Lacrosse was also on the 18th hole when play was suspended. She was two under par through seven holes before falling to two over after 15. Birdies on the par-3 16th and par-5 17th got her to even par through 17 holes.
“I just knew I was playing well,” said Lacrosse, whose dad has played Champions Tour events and the U.S. Senior Open. “I tried to keep it going, but then I got ahead of myself a little bit.”
Christina Kim had a 1:47 p.m. tee time. She thought the USGA made the right decision to suspend play for the day, recalling the 2006 U.S. Women’s Open at Newport (R.I.) Country Club when the first round was lost to fog. She warmed up seven times without ever taking an official shot.
“I visited every room in the building today,” said Kim. “There was nothing left to do. I saw 20 ice cream wrappers that I did not partake in.”