OAKMONT, Pa. – There are a whopping six Americans in the top 10 of the U.S. Women’s Open, a surprising and impressive number to those who follow the LPGA.
“I noticed that, yeah. … I had to look twice, because (the leaderboard) said, Jang, Lang, and Yang,” said Christina Kim, who just last week was part of a three-Kim playoff in Toledo. “I had to stop and think: Brittany (Lang) is American. It was exciting to see that.”
Cristie Kerr was the last American to win the U.S. Women’s Open in 2007 at Pine Needles. Three double bogeys, however, dropped her out of the top 10. She’s tied for 11th, seven strokes behind Paula Creamer. The pair have five holes to play in Round 3, which will resume Sunday at 8 a.m.
America’s best bets:
1. Paula Creamer: Who needs a left thumb? Searching for her first major, 23-year-old Paula Creamer holds a three-stroke advantage over the field. Her fellow Americans aren’t surprised, noting that she hits her driver on a string. After 29 holes of golf and two warm-up sessions in one day, Creamer’s health will come into play as much as her nerves.
“I’ll probably sleep with an ice bag on my hand,” she said. “I’m afraid to take this tape off. My thumb is just going to explode out of it.”
2. Wendy Ward: Ward has one hole left to play in the third round and is alone in second. This is unfamiliar territory for the veteran of 13 U.S. Women’s Opens. She never has finished higher than T-19. Ward, 37, has four LPGA victories, the latest coming in 2005. She’s the most unlikely member of this six-some.
T-4. Alexis Thompson: No surprise this 15-year-old is trying to make history. She’s made a career out of “being the youngest to” and this time she’s going for the ultimate title: Youngest to win an LPGA major. Thompson turned professional last month at the ShopRite LPGA Classic. She’s playing in her fourth U.S. Women’s Open. Having completed her third round (70), Thompson has the luxury of sleeping in tomorrow.
“I’m not thinking about the money,” said Thompson, who doesn’t even have a driver’s license. “I’m just playing my game.”
T-4. Brittany Lang: Also looking for her first LPGA victory, the 24-year-old sits five shots back after a third-round 74. Should she win at Oakmont, Lang would be the first Duke player to win an LPGA title, let alone a major.
“I got lucky I got done (with my round),” Lang said. “I feel fantastic.”
Lang tied for second with Morgan Pressel as an amateur at the 2005 U.S. Women’s Open at Cherry Hills. Her lowest U.S. Women’s Open score is a 69.
T-7. Natalie Gulbis: This fan favorite didn’t even show up to practice until Wednesday this week, merely hitting balls and working on her short game before signing autographs in the merchandise tent. Gulbis has one hole left and is six strokes behind Creamer. In her eight Women’s Open appearances, she has one top 10 (2003). A U.S. Women’s Open title would redefine Gulbis’ image.
T-7. Christina Kim: She’s currently six strokes back with four holes left in her third round. Kim, 26, never has performed well at the U.S. Women’s Open. She came into Oakmont in good form, however, after finishing runner-up at the Jamie Farr. Kim must be thinking that a victory on Sunday would boost sales of her new book: Swinging From My Heels. If she’s in contention, rest assured the two-time tour winner will put on a show.
Not far behind:
T-11. Stacy Lewis
T-11. Cristie Kerr
T-18. Angela Stanford