The U.S. Women's Open trophy (USGA/John Mummert photo)
Qualifying for the U.S. Women's Open is underway at various sites across the country (and the world) as players try to punch their ticket to the 74th U.S. Women's Open Championship later this month at the Country Club of Charleston (S.C.).
Professional and amateur golfers will compete across 25 sectional qualifying sites in the U.S., with additional sites in England, Japan and Korea.
Highlights from qualifying include:
Wanderers Club, Wellington, Fla.
has played her way into the U.S. Women’s Open, which is just a continuation of the career year the 14-year-old has been having. Pano had to drain a 35-footer for birdie on the second playoff hole at the Wanderers Club in Wellington, Fla., to do it. Her 36-hole qualifier bled into a second day when weather caused first a suspension then a postponement.
Already this year, Pano has played the Augusta National Women’s Amateur as the youngest player in the field (she missed the 36-hole cut) and nearly won a Symetra Tour event before that. She did win the Dustin Johnson World Junior and the Ione D. Jones Championship.
Pano, who took the second of two spots out of Wellington with rounds of 71-75, has tried to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open six times, but this is her first successful turn. She defeated former UCLA star Stephanie Kono and former Purdue standout Maude-Aimee Leblanc in the playoff.
Oahu CC, Honolulu, Hawaii
Professional Tiffany Chan took the sole qualifying spot with rounds of 67-69 for a 6 under total, but amateurs made up much of the leaderboard in Honolulu.
Pinnacle Peak CC, Scottsdale, Ariz.
The two available spots out of Scottsdale went to professionals Stephanie Meadow and Jimin Kang. Meadow is a former Curtis Cupper and was a member of the Alabama women’s golf team that won the national title in 2012.
Marin CC, Novato, Calif.
Morgan Pressel, runner-up at the 2005 U.S. Women’s Open champion, took the top spot at Marin Country Club, followed by Nanna Madsen a professional from Denmark who did a short stint on the South Carolina women’s golf roster.
Walnut Creek GP, Westminster, Colo.
The sole qualifying spot in Colorado went to professional Olafia Kristinsdottir, a former Wake Forest player from Iceland.
Bradenton (Fla.) CC
Neither qualifier out of Bradenton was an amateur, although the two alternates are. That includes Ching-Tzu Chen from Taiwan, and Lei (Angelina) Ye, a Stanford commit who was runner-up at the Harder Hall Women’s Amateur in January.
Druid Hills GC, Atlanta
The run continues for Yuka Saso
of the Philippines. After a top-3 finish at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur last month and a recent turn at the Women’s Amateur Asia-Pacific (where she was 17th), Saso played her way into the U.S. Women’s Open at the qualifier in Atlanta. Saso went 11 under with rounds of 67-66 to take medalist honors and earn one of two spots alongside Leona Maguire, a former Annika Award winner and Duke standout who now plays professionally.
Elgin (Ill.) CC
Two spots were available in Elgin, and one went to the newest USGA champion. Last week, Megan Furtney combined with future Duke teammate Erica Shepherd to win the U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball. On Monday, she guaranteed herself a spot in the nation’s championship by logging rounds of 73-74 that earned her the second of two qualifying spots. Furtney will be a freshman at Duke in the fall.
Professional Wichanee Meechai was medalist.
TPC Boston, Norton, Mass.
This marks the second straight year that Canadian Celeste Dao
, a native of Notre-Dame-de-l’Île-Perrot, Quebec who resides in Victoria, British Columbia, has earned both medalist honors and low-amateur honors en route to qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Open Championship in the Bay State. After carding a 6-over 78 in her first 18-holes of competition on Monday, Dao, who will compete for the University of Georgia Women’s Golf Team beginning this fall, cut four strokes off her round in her second 18 holes, registering two birdies to four bogeys to finish in a three-way tie for first place with Bridgewater, Connecticut’s Mia Landegren and fellow Canadian Valerie Tanguay. Dao won in a playoff.
Chartiers CC, Pittsburgh, Pa.
No amateurs advanced out of Pittsburgh, though former U.S. Women’s Mid-Amateur champion Lauren Greenlief logged a top-6 finish.
Hong Kong GC, Hong Kong China
Two qualifiers advanced from Hong Kong in Babe Lu of Taiwan and Prima Thammaraks of Thailand, but neither are amateurs. Thammaraks played college golf for Iowa State.
Canyon Creek CC, Richardson, Texas
Texas sophomore Kaitlyn Papp
medaled at the qualifier in Richardson, roughly 200 miles up the road from the Texas campus in Austin, with rounds of 71-69 at the par-71 Canyon Creek. Qualifying for the Women’s Open came on the heels of a runner-up at the Big 12 Championship and a top-5 finish at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.
Springfield (Va.) Golf & Country Club
, a graduate student at Virginia Tech, posted a 36-hole total of 1-under 141 to earn medalist honors at the qualifier in Springfield. The other qualifying spot went to Karoline Stormo
, who plays at Kent State University. She followed her opening-round 74 with a second-round 70 for an 2-over 144.
Contra Costa CC, Pleasant Hill, Calif.
Two amateurs advanced with the qualifying spots at Contra Costa, and several more were right behind them. With her 3-under total for the 36-hole day, Sabrina Iqbal
took the first qualifying spot. Iqbal is TCU freshman from San Jose, Calif., who recently finished in the top 10 at the Big 12 Championship.
of Danville, Calif., took the second qualifying spot with her 2-under total. Akabane is the reigning California Women’s Amateur champion. She also qualified for the Women’s Open in 2017.
Rancho Santa Fe (Calif.) Golf Club
For the second consecutive year, USC sophomore Jennifer Chang
is into the U.S. Women’s Open. Chang, of Cary, N.C., qualified in Rancho Santa Fe alongside Trojan teammate Gabriela Ruffels
of Australia. Chang took the top spot with a 1-under total while Ruffels was even for 36 holes. A year ago, Chang got the call into the Women’s Open as an alternate at the last minute. This should give her considerably more time to prepare.
Country Club of Ocala (Fla.)
A couple of recognizable names graced the top of Women’s Open qualifying in Ocala. Maria Fassi
, the Arkansas senior who was runner-up at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, opened with 7-under 65 and even a closing round of 2-over 74 couldn’t derail her. Fassi took medalist honors, followed by Sierra Brooks
, a Florida junior and another ANWA contender. Brooks finished at even par then won the second and final spot in a playoff with pro Jessica Welch.
Starmount Forest CC, Greensboro, N.C.
Wake Forest senior Jennifer Kupcho
fired a 3-under 69 in the second round to finish at 3-under 141 overall and claim medalist honors in her Greensboro qualifier. Kupcho is the recent winner of the Augusta National Women's Amateur and the defending NCAA champion. After graduating, Kupcho plans to turn professional, which means that she would not be able to use the exemption she earned into the U.S. Women’s Open by being winner of the Mark H. McCormack medal as the No. 1 player in the World Amateur Golf Ranking. Winning in Greensboro now assures her a spot.
In addition to medalist honors, Kupcho claimed the low amateur award at the qualifier. Also qualifying for the championship was Duke freshman Gina Kim
of Chapel Hill, N.C. Kim outlasted Clemson Women's Golf Associate Head Coach Heather Young of Ft. Worth, Texas in a one-hole playoff for the final qualifying spot.
Dream Park Country Club
The top three players on the board in Incheon finished 36 holes at 1-under 141. Jiyu Jung, a professional, and amateur Ma Dasom advanced for a spot in the Women’s Open.
OGA Golf Course, Woodburn, Ore.
will represent North Carolina State at the U.S. Women’s Open after winning the qualifier in Oregon. The Canadian is a senior on the Wolfpack roster, and also played the Women’s Open as a freshman in 2016.
In addition to Ko, Auston Kim
also qualified. The St. Augustine, Fla., native is a freshman at Vanderbilt. Kim had to work hard coming in, making birdie on her 34th and 35th holes of the day to earn a spot in a playoff against former Purdue standout Paula Reto of South Africa. Kim won on the second extra hole after making two pars.
"It's just an unreal feeling," Kim said after the grueling day. "I'm pretty tired at the moment, but I'm also very happy."
Industry Hills (Calif.) Golf Club
Stanford junior Andrea Lee
is an eight-time winner for the Cardinal, and this month she’ll become a three-time U.S. Women’s Open participant. Lee, of Hermosa Beach, Calif., was one of three players to finish the qualifier at Industry Hills with an 8-under total. She and Japan’s Suzuka Yamaguchi, who will play as a professional, earned the two spots in the field.
Forsgate Country Club in Monroe Township, N.J.
On the first day of stateside U.S. Women’s Open qualifying, a 15-year-old stole the headlines. Megha Ganne
earned her place in the Women’s Open field as the medalist in her New Jersey qualifier, where only one spot was available. Ganne was one of 32 amateurs in the 40-woman field.
“I just felt I went out and played like it was any other tournament. I do get intimidated by the older players, but it’s not like I’m a 10-year-old. I hit it as far as they do and I’ve been playing golf since I was seven. I have experience and felt I had as good a chance as anyone in the field,” said Ganne, a freshman at Holmdel High School.
Ganne is a four-time Drive, Chip and Putt finalist and has also played in four previous USGA championships.
Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan
Two of four qualifiers at Ohtone Country Club were amateurs, including Yuri Yoshida, who was runner-up at 1 under, and Nanako Ueno, who together with professional Haruka Amamoto, eeked out the last spot at 2 over.