by Julie Williams
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (July 8, 2011) -– Amy Anderson quickly is achieving hero status at The Broadmoor. Returning Friday morning at 7:45 to finish her first round after Thursday’s rain delay at the U.S. Women’s Open, Anderson made her only bogey at No. 15, then drained a 7-footer for birdie at No. 17. An up-and-down par at 18 for a 2-under 69 that kept her in the lead prompted resounding cheers of “Go Amy!” from the gallery.
Apparently, it’s hard to ice the girl from North Dakota. Anderson admitted Thursday to spending much of the day joking with caddie and brother Nathan that someone had better take a picture of her name atop the leaderboard, because it would be fleeting.
“It’s going to be up there all night, so I’m excited,” Anderson had joked.
Her plan had been to treat Friday’s resumption like she was starting at the first tee all over again. She faced a 12-footer for birdie at No. 13 that would have given her the immediate outright lead, but missed. Meanwhile, Cristie Kerr, who had birdied her final two holes before the delay to share the overnight lead, struggled with a tricky bunker shot at No. 7. Back-to-back bogeys at 7 and 8 dropped her to even par as the afternoon wave hit the East Course.
Anderson said she slept well despite her position, and is trying not to get ahead of herself so early in the week.
“We’re just staying with my cousins, so I was chilling with them and went to bed,” Anderson said nonchalantly. “I just didn’t really think about it too much. I’m trying not to get ahead of myself, this is just the first round; half the people hadn’t teed off yet.”
Anderson emerged from the locker room Thursday when play was called for the day and fielded questions from the media, still with a smile on her face. At 2 under after birdies at Nos. 5 and 9, she held the solo lead for much of the morning before Kerr got hot and joined her.
Even atop the Women’s Open leaderboard, even after finishing T-12 at the NCAA Women’s National Championship two months prior, and even with 10 college victories to her name in two years as a Bison, Anderson still flashes the genuine smile she became known for during her march to victory at the 2009 U.S. Girls’ Junior. It was the first time Anderson won on a truly national stage, but many still don’t know her name.
Anderson’s parents, coach and about 20 more friends and supporters from home also are here this week, after making the roughly 14-hour drive from Oxbow, N.D. Since arriving in Colorado Springs June 28, Nathan has spent considerable time charting The Broadmoor’s tricky greens.
“These greens, you can’t read them,” Nathan said of the hidden breaks. Amy has put considerable trust in him this week in that department, and through the first 12 holes it appeared to be paying off.
The pair are becoming something of a dynamic duo. It was Nathan who accompanied Amy to the national championship, not her parents. And after picking up Amy’s bag in myriad USGA and other amateur events, Amy says Nathan might just know her game better than she does.
One thing Nathan doesn’t need to worry about: calming Amy down on-course. He says he usually tries to figure out what she’s feeling, then go from there.
“She doesn’t get too nervous,” he said.
The toothy grin supports that statement, and also speaks to the unbelievable level of modesty Anderson has maintained.
Interest grew among gallery members Thursday, and everything from “Can you believe she’s only 18?” to “Can you believe she lives in North Dakota?” circulated as Anderson made her way around the East Course.
“I like being the underdog,” she said. “It’s a position I’m really comfortable with. I mean, to me, I don’t expect to go out and win this or continue playing like this. I mean, I’m gonna try and work as hard as I can to do that, but I’m just going out there and having fun.”
As the accolades keep piling up – and amid fielding constant questions about how she manages to maintain her game in the frozen North – Anderson remains loyal as ever to her beloved North Dakota. She likes the mental break that winter provides. After finishing home-schooling as a 16-year-old two years ago, she wasn’t ready to move cross country just yet, and she’s still not.
This is a girl who knows what she wants.