SAN MARTIN, Calif. – Stacy Lewis says anyone under par has a chance to win the 71st U.S. Women’s Open. Nineteen players are in red numbers after three rounds at CordeValle, including a host of Americans. Brittany Lang, who finished runner-up at this event as an amateur in 2005, stands closest to leader Lydia Ko at 5 under, two strokes behind the World No. 1.
Angela Stanford, who lost in a playoff to Hilary Lunke at Pumpkin Ridge in 2003, is three back. Danielle Kang, a two-time U.S. Women’s Amateur champ, trails by four while Kris Tamulis and Lewis join 2007 USWO champion Cristie Kerr at 2 under. Rounding out the list of stars and stripes under par is Jessica Korda, who struggled with a 75 to finish 1 under.
Since Kerr won America’s championship at Pine Needles in 2007, Koreans have won six of the past eight U.S. Women’s Open titles. Only Michelle Wie (2014) and Paula Creamer (2010) managed to break South Korea’s stride. There are three South Koreans among the top 5: 2009 champion Eun Hee Ji (6 under), Sung Hyun Park (6 under) and Amy Yang (5 under).
“I think it would be huge,” said Kerr of an American winning at CordeValle.
“We want to continue to grow the game of women’s golf in America. Obviously in Asia it’s very strong now, and it would be nice to continue to grow our base here, as well.”
Stanford drove to Monterey on Friday evening and toured 17-Mile Drive. She walked out on the 18th at Pebble Beach and took in the calm and spectacular view.
This championship holds a special place in Stanford’s heart, and she’s particularly fond of this part of the country. The sting of Pumpkin Ridge has subsided after more than a decade. Sure, she sometimes thinks about what might have been, but said she wouldn’t change a thing.
“I know that it made me who I am today,” Stanford said.
The proud Texan birdied three of the last four holes on a sun-splashed Saturday and felt good about her putting, which saved a round that started to get away from her. Stanford said she and swing coach Mike Wright went back to basics in May after her putting hit “rock bottom.” She’s now in position to finish something she started 13 years ago.
Every day at CordeValle has felt completely different for Lewis, who said Thursday morning was soft and gettable while Friday afternoon was “unplayable,” with her 9-iron running out 170 yards. Saturday, she said, was somewhere in the middle.
“Last night I knew I wasn’t going to be able to move up the leaderboard,” Lewis said. “I knew I just needed to get it to the house and get a tee time for today, and see what I could do. I don’t know if that’s experience of playing in these tournaments.
“But you’ve just got to keep hanging around.”
Plenty of Americans are hanging tough with her.