COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Hee Kyung Seo barely squeaked out a finish as darkness fell Sunday at The Broadmoor. It’s not often that the leader of the U.S. Women’s Open is the eight groups ahead of the final pairing.
But it’s also not often that the nation’s championship finishes on Monday.
Seo, 25, emerged as the hottest player on a marathon Sunday, going 6 under in the 36 holes she played. She is in the clubhouse with a 3-under 281, and her closest pursuer is So Yeon Ryu, who is one shot back with three holes to play.
“Nobody knows what’s going to happen tomorrow,” Seo said. “I think they’re going to have (no) wind in the morning, so I will just pray and wait.”
Seo had just putted out on the 18th and walked into the scoring tent when the horn blew, stopping play for darkness. She was the first group off the tee at 6:45 a.m. Sunday, and to save time, players were not regrouped between Rounds 3 and 4.
Even though skies had cleared by the time play was restarted at 5:55 p.m., wind gusts picked up as Seo made her way down the 17th. After a vicious lip-out for bogey, Seo parred the 18th, and says her slim lead won’t result in any loss of sleep.
“I did my best and I did all my things, so even if I could not be winner, I don’t mind,” she said. “I just did my best, and that’s all.”
Dubbed the supermodel of the fairways by the Korean media, Seo qualified into the Women’s Open, her third, through the 36-hole section qualifier in Bedminster, N.J. Caddie Kurt Kowaluk said it was the first time in her career that she had played 36 holes in one day.
“I said to her today, it’s going to be a long day and you just have to roll with the punches,” Kowaluk said. “It’s hard to explain her, she just has this intangible that you can’t really explain, it’s called winning I guess.”
It didn’t seem to bother her Sunday, and with lead in hand, it’s now up to her pursuers to make a move come Monday morning.
2. Not over yet: The weather delays continue to rack up as the fifth play stoppage kept players off the course for roughly two and a half hours Sunday. Add that to the delays that have occurred during each round already this week, and nearly 15 hours have been lost to storms.
What that ultimately means is that for the first time since 1987, the Women’s Open will require a Monday finish because of weather. Play is expected to begin at 8 a.m., and the final groups will have five holes to finish.
3. It ain’t over: Cristie Kerr has a chance to win the 66th U.S. Women’s Open, but it will take incredible heroics. Kerr needs to play the last two holes in 2 under to tie Seo at 3-under 281. When play was called due to darkness, Kerr was on the 17th tee. She played the 600-yard par 5 1 under the first three rounds and the difficult par-4 18th even par. Kerr, winless this season, has three runner-up finishes and a T-3 in the last four events.
“I have two holes left,” said Kerr. “The tournament is not decided yet. I think she’s (Seo) over there celebrating. We all have a chance.”
4. Rotten timing: Angela Stanford knows that with the U.S. Open comes mistakes. Unfortunately for her, the big one came on the back nine Sunday. Stanford double-bogeyed No. 11 and then made bogeys on 13 and 14 to drop from a share of the lead at 4 under to even par. The Texan, who is still looking for her first major title, said the mistakes were more mental than physical.
Stanford knows all about this kind of pressure, having experienced a three-way playoff against Hilary Lunke at the U.S. Women’s Open in 2003. She has four holes left to give Seo a scare and played those Nos. 15-18 1 over the first three rounds.
“It’s good to know exactly what I have to do,” she said. “It’s been beautiful every morning here, so the good news is I’m playing a stretch of holes that you can make three birdies and not 10 through 15. I’m looking forward to it.”
5. Slammed shut: Yani Tseng’s bid to win the career grand slam still had life when she made the turn on Sunday 1 over. Bogeys on Nos. 10 and 11, however, put her at 3 over and out of the picture. Tseng struggled with her putting, a part of her game that’s been such a strength all year.
“I don’t know what happened,” Tseng said. “But on the back nine I probably just tried too hard and thinking to much and didn’t make par.”