Karrie Webb is making her 20th appearance at the U.S. Women’s Open this week but said that two decades of experience doesn’t necessarily make things much easier at the toughest test in golf. The 40-year old said controlling her emotions at this major is something she has worked on over the years.
“You’d think a lot, but I still have my challenges at a U.S. Open,” said Webb. “You always want to do well at this event. And for me it’s about controlling my emotions and not getting too high or too low, especially in the first couple of rounds. I did a really good job of that today.”
Webb, who is a two-time winner of this event had a lights-out ball-striking day and hit all 14 fairways and only missed one green, on her final hole, the par 4 9th. She made the turn at even-par and all four of her birdies came on her back-nine.
“My game made it a little bit easier for me,” said Webb. “I played very well, I didn’t miss a fairway. When you play like that, you know, it’s not easy but it’s less stressful than I could have made it…I hit the first 17 greens, and gave myself a lot of looks. And on the front nine, I wouldn’t have added up to 20 feet with the four birdies I made.”
With a win this week, Webb would become just the fifth player in history to win three U.S. Women’s Opens and would join the likes of Babe Zaharias, Susie Berning, Hollis Stacy and Annika Sorenstam.
YOU’VE COME A LONG WAY
Marina Alex has come a long way since her U.S. Women’s Open debut seven years ago in 2009 at Saucon Valley, an hour and a half drive from Lancaster. Alex just finished her freshman year at Vanderbilt and said she can’t compare much from that experience to this week. She would shoot rounds of 82-78 and missed the cut in her first appearance and looks to improve that record this week.
“It’s totally different,” said Alex. “I was an amateur. I qualified like the last spot on my sectional. I think I was just finishing my first year of college. My game then and now is not even remotely the same. So that was just -- I mean I was a nervous kid pretty much.”
After an opening-round 66 and holding a share of the first-round lead, Alex credits her week-to-week experiences out on the LPGA Tour for giving her a sense of comfort on the big stage.
“Now I have been out here my second year, it’s just more comfortable and more familiar and I know that it is a major and it is the U.S. Open, but I see the same faces every week,” said Alex. “I’m in the same process as I have been for the past two years, so it’s just -- it’s totally different playing it now than it was then.”
TITLE DEFENSE OFF TO A ROCKY START FOR WIE
Michelle Wie’s title defense didn’t get off to the start she was hoping for and finished the first round at 2-over par and currently sits six shots off the leaders. Wie had four bogeys and two birdies in her round of 72.
“Really close, just a couple of shots here and there. I couldn’t get my irons as close as I wanted to,” said Wie. “The holes were -- to give yourself a good position, you have to get it close and make a birdie. Just couldn’t get that going today. Made a lot of good par saves kind of a mediocre round, but at the same time just a lot of good feelings, and I’m excited about the rest of the tournament.”
Wie is sitting in a tie for 62nd and flirting with the cut line. The top-60 players and ties will play on the weekend. Birdie Kim was the last defending champion to miss the cut in 2006.
“You can’t win the tournament on the first day, but you definitely can lose it,” said Wie. “I definitely feel like I’m in there. I think I held it together today. I had a lot of opportunities where I had to make big putts, and I’m proud of myself for that. I definitely feel like I’m -- it’s a tough golf course, so I think you have to try to make birdies when you can.
B GAME KEEPS PRESSEL IN THE MIX
Morgan Pressel sits just two shots off the lead after her first round of the U.S. Women’s Open and the 27-year old said that she wasn’t even in her best form in her round of 68.
“I’m not on my “A” game, and to shoot 2-under par I’ll definitely take that,” said Presel. “I grinded very hard today. I putted really well. That was encouraging, it’s something that I’ve been struggling with. Just haven’t putt as well as I would have liked to, but I certainly putted well today.
Pressel needed only 27 putts on Thursday and ranked first the field in putts among players who finished. She’s played extremely well in majors this year already and finished third at the ANA Inspiration and tied for fifth at the KPMG
Women’s PGA Championship. The two-time LPGA Tour winner said a never-give-up attitude is key to finishing well at majors and said she drew from that mentality from a certain player while she was covering the men’s U.S. Open at Chambers Bay.
“I think it’s an attitude thing more than a game thing,” said Pressel. “I really felt like I didn’t play very well at KPMG. I hit the ball, I thought, very poorly that week, and I still was able to finish 5th. Today I didn’t have my game. But it’s just, okay, it’s gone, move forward kind of an attitude.”
“I think what was interesting to watch, too, is Louis Oosthuizen at the men’s Open in the opening rounds and that never-give-up attitude that he had, and how he nearly came back and won,” Pressel added. “And that’s what it takes to win, period, let alone to win the biggest championship in golf.”
Jimin Kang withdrew after 16 holes citing illness
ROLEX RANKINGS NO. 1 SPOT UP FOR GRABS
Inbee Park has held the No. 1 spot in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings for four weeks since overtaking Lydia Ko for the top spot after her win at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship but her reign is at stake this week in Lancaster. Ko is the only player who can unseat Park for No. 1.
Lydia Ko can take over No. 1 if:
She wins AND Inbee Park finishes in a tie for 7th or worse.