I had the double-interlocking grip on the remote this weekend following the golf on TV with Ricky Fowler outlasting the elements and outplaying the field to win the Scottish Open at Gullane and Jordan Spieth continuing his roman candle season with a come-from-behind playoff win at the John Deere Classic.
But for my money, the most compelling golf drama took place in the Women’s U.S. Open at Lancaster Country Club as 20-year old In Gee Chun from South Korea came charging past Stacy Lewis, Amy Yang, and Inbee Park on the inward nine with a 66 and a record setting 8-under par to claim her first major.
Classic William Flynn Golden Age design challenged the women to be at their best
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This all took place with the stunning backdrop of Lancaster Country Club course as a canvas. Record crowds totaling 134,000 witnessed unbelievably clutch performances over the weekend from stars like Inbee Park, Stacy Lewis, Amy Yang, So Yeon Ryu, Morgan Pressel, and young Brooke Henderson. Throw in an intestinal fortitude performance by Michelle Wie- who looked like The Tin Man in spandex hobbling on a bad hip and ankle- and it was a full monty of the best that global women’s golf has to offer.
Michelle Wie in her original signature heron stoop putting posture
For most of Saturday and Sunday it looked like a gladiator duel between the world #3 Stacy Lewis trying to claim her first U.S. Open Championship and Amy Yang who has simply owned this event with two runner ups and five top tens in the last six years. They traded blows all day Saturday surviving with a pair of entertaining 69’s on a steeply rolling William Flynn course that was set up for train wrecks.
Yang and Lewis spent lots of quality time together over the weekendEmbed from Getty Images
Sunday would have been the same but Stacy flinched twice with a pair of double bogies that dashed her chances. Amy Yang looked like Cool Hand Luke using the metronome timing of her swing to pound out pars and lead the way comfortably through the first 13 holes. But clearly the pressure took it’s toll as she bogied 14 and 15 to relinquish the lead. With In Gee Chun on a birdie skein of her own from 15 on, including a clutch birdie bunker save on 16 and a no pulse lawn dart approach to the tight pin on 17, it looked like Yang hopes in this championship were going down the proverbial tubes.
Then something rather peculiar happened-Amy gave herself a talking to and regained her gunslinger composure hitting a tight draw three wood to 12 feet to make eagle on 16 and followed with a laser like approach and 7-foot birdie putt on 17 to pull within one. Coupled with the leader’s bogie on the finishing hole a par on the last would set up a riveting three-hole playoff between the two South Korean’s for the whole bulgogi.
Turning her drive on the par 4 18th over just a skotch too much Amy was left with an unworkable lie in the left rough with no choice but to lay up. From there she flagged her 62-yard third shot only to see the steepness of Flynn’s green shuttle it back to 10 feet below the hole. The par putt that would send them to a playoff for the Harton S. Semple Trophy drifted left of the hole leaving Amy Yang with that all too familiar empty feeling that a Women’s U.S. Open got away……again.
Smiles and a ream of birdies down the stretch made Chun the one this afternoon…Embed from Getty Images