Colorado Springs, Colo. (July 9, 2011) -– It was a good-news, bad-news scenario at the 66th U.S. Women’s Open Saturday. The good news was that the cutline was established and the third round got underway. The bad news mirrored the same storyline of the previous two days: storms rolled through the area and caused yet another suspension.
Due to several weather delays since the start of the championship, a total of 24 threesomes were scheduled to go off the first and 10th tees to begin the third round Saturday. Only 19 players were able to begin the round as play was suspended at 3:59 p.m. MDT, when storms hit. Play will resume at 6:45 a.m. Sunday.
“It’s no fun,” said Yani Tseng, who shot 4-over 146 for her two rounds. “I’m so excited to go out and make some birdies, but then it’s stop, start, stop, start. I can’t get into any kind of tempo.”
Ben Kimball, the director of the U.S. Women’s Open, likened the past three days to the movie “Groundhog Day.” He said players on Sunday will go off at 11-minute intervals; the final group will start at 8:02 a.m. The plan is to get both rounds in on Sunday. If more storms should hit the area and delay action, which according to the forecast is a possibility, the championship could have its first non-playoff finish on a Monday since 1987 at Plainfield (N.J.) Country Club. That event ended on Tuesday with Laura Davies winning an 18-hole playoff.
Cristie Kerr, the 2007 Women’s Open champion, said: “It’s never any fun dealing with stuff like this. There’s nothing you can do about it.”
The cutline was established at seven over par with 72 golfers, including five amateurs, surviving the cut. Twenty-five Americans, including defending champion Paula Creamer, and 20 Koreans made the cut. In all, 20 different countries are represented.
Through two rounds on the 7,047-yard, par-71 East Course, five players have completed under-par rounds. Leader Mika Miyazato of Japan shot 4-under 67 Saturday, the lowest round of the week, to post a 5-under 137 total. It was enough to lead close friend Ai Miyazato (4-under 138) by one stroke, I.K. Kim by two and Stacy Lewis and Ryann O’Toole by three.
“I said to my caddie right before I teed off, ‘My body is tired,’” said O’Toole. “The only time we ever played 36 [holes] was when you made it in match play in amateur events and you made it to like the Sweet 16, top eight, or for a U.S. Open qualifier. And half the time I’m thinking when they have the qualifier, God, why are they doing 36 in one day? Well, it pays off.”
Mika Miyazato, who started her second round at one under par, carded five birdies, 12 pars and one bogey, picking up strokes on the third, fourth, fifth, ninth and 10th holes. On No. 9, the last outward-nine- par 5, she used a 52-degree wedge from 73 yards out to get her ball within 2 feet of the hole before tapping in. Her lone blemish came on the 450-yard, par-4 13th, which knocked her back to five under before she closed out with five pars. To her credit, she played the difficult stretch from No. 10 through No. 15 at level par.
“I can't believe [it], so I'm a little bit nervous but so excited,” she said of leading the championship.
Ai Miyazato, who grew up on Okinawa, the same island as Mika, has known Mika since she was 10 years old. She pressured her friend with birdies on No. 17 and 18. Ai Miyazato sank a 4-footer on the 17th hole, then converted an 18-footer on the finishing hole to close within a stroke of her compatriot.
“I missed a few fairways today, but I got … up and down like five times,” said Ai Miyazato. “That’s why I think [I had] the [couple of] birdies coming in toward the end because I learned patience during the round.”
If patience is indeed a virtue, there’s no doubt players have had it instilled this week.
What would this championship be without yet another weather delay? There were two in Saturday’s play. For those who are superstitious, a rainbow popped up above The Broadmoor, perhaps an omen signifying an uninterrupted day of play ahead.
If 36 holes can somehow be squeezed in Sunday it will be reminiscent of the U.S. Open up until 1964, when the men traditionally played 36 holes on Saturday to end the championship. In 2006 at Newport (R.I.) Country Club, the Women’s Open concluded with a 36-hole Sunday finish, with Annika Sorenstam winning a Monday playoff over Pat Hurst.
An end is what Kimball is looking for.
“All we can do is hope for the best; we’re not leaving The Broadmoor until we play 72 holes and crown a champion,” he said.
Meanwhile, five amateurs are staying around for more. They include 16-year-old Moriya Jutanugarn of Thailand (three over), Amy Anderson (four over), Victoria Tanco of Argentina (five over), Lindy Duncan (six over) and reigning U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Danielle Kang (seven over).