South Korean golfer Inbee Park forged to a four-shot lead after the third round of the US Women’s Open at Sebonack Golf Club in New York on Saturday, giving her the chance to win the first three major championships of the year.
Park fired a one-under 71 in the third round, the only player in the field to post a sub-par round in red figures in difficult winds, to move to 10-under 206, four shots clear of compatriot I.K. Kim (73) at six-under 210.
England’s Jodi Ewart-Shadoff (74) appears the only other legitimate challenger at three-under with South Korea’s Ryu So-yeon (73) and American Angela Stanford (74) the only other players under par, nine off the pace at one-under in a tie for fourth.
“The wind was a bit stronger than [Friday], so the conditions were tough.” Park said. “The pin positions were tough, a lot of long irons hitting into the greens.”
“It was just a very tough day, but I think I battled it really good out there,” she said. “I had my tough times in the middle, but ended up finishing very good, so I’m happy with that.”
The 24-year-old Park is keeping the dream of a Grand Slam alive having already won the Kraft Nabisco Championship and the LPGA Championship earlier this year.
Should she prevail she will not only claim a fourth major, but will be just the second LPGA Tour player to win the first three majors in a season.
Mildred (Babe) Didrikson Zaharias won all three majors played in 1950, the Titleholders Championship, the Women’s Western Open and the US Women’s Open.
“It’s tough not to think about it ... I just try to think that’s not a big deal,” Park told reporters.
“If I want to do it so much, it’s just so tough and it puts too much pressure on you. I try to not think about it so much,” she said.
“I’m just going to try to do the same thing that I did for the last three days. It will be a big day, but it’s just a round of golf, and I just try not to think about it so much. I just try to concentrate on whatever I’m doing on the golf course,” the South Korean said.
Park would be just the fourth woman to win three majors in a calendar year, joining Zaharias, Mickey Wright (1961) and Pat Bradley (1986).
Only Ben Hogan (1953) has won the first three majors of the year in the professional era of men’s golf and prior to that only Bob Jones has won what is considered the Grand Slam.
Jones won the US and British Amateurs and US and British Opens in 1930.
While Zaharias won every major on offer in 1950, from 1955 to 1966 and 1983 to last year the LPGA held four majors though this year a fifth was added.
For a clean sweep the current world No. 1 will also need to win the Women’s British Open next month followed by the Evian Championship in September.
Taiwanese-American amateur Doris Chen advanced to the final round with an 11-over par 227
Chen, a rising junior at the University of Southern California (USC), is making an impressive show, tying at 51, entering yesterday’s final round.
Chen, who helped USC win the NCAA title in May and made the final of the US Women’s Amateur Public Links last month, made the cut after two solid rounds of play on Thursday and Friday.
She headed into the final rounds at four-over 148, tied for 44th, but fatigue may have finally caught up with Chen as she scored a birdie, six bogeys and a double bogey to finish with a seven-over par 79 in the third round.
Chen, who was raised in Taiwan before moving to the US to pursue her golf dreams, is making her debut at the US Women’s Open, and is the first Taiwanese amateur to advance to the final round of the tournament.
Taiwan’s Yani Tseng, failed to make the cut after hitting a seven-over par 151 through the first two rounds.
Once considered among the best golfers in the world and the youngest player ever to win five major championships, the former World No.1 continues a 15-month winless spell. However, Tseng, 24, is not discouraged, tweeting, “Wish I am still playing out there. But I had lots of fun played at Shinnecock today. Be patient, I will be where I want to be !!!”
Taiwan’s Candie Kung withdrew from the tournament without completing her second round.
Additional reporting by staff writer