HOUSTON — When Amy Olson turned pro in 2013, many expected that she’d be the next star on the LPGA Tour. That included Olson.
There was good reason: In college, Olson won 20 tournaments while at North Dakota State, breaking Juli Inskter’s NCAA record of 17 titles.
Seven years later, the 28-year-old is still looking for her first tour victory. “I think coming out here I expected to win really early,” Olson said. “It always kind of came easy to me in college. I won the U.S. [Girls’] Junior Amateur just my second time playing the event, so it definitely was easy for me early on.
“Coming out here, the play is absolutely fantastic. It’s not easy to win out here. You have to put four really good days together. And so it has been, I think, a test of my patience.”
So is this week’s U.S. Women’s Open at Champions Golf Club, where two courses are being used for the first time in the championship’s history. On Thursday, Olson aced that one.
Buoyed by an hole-in-one on her seventh hole of the day, the 16th on the Cypress Creek Course, Olson shot a four-under 67 to take a one-stroke lead over Hinako Shibuno, Moriya Jutanugarn and A Lim Kim.
“I definitely allowed myself to celebrate there and enjoy the moment,” Olson said of her hole-in-one from 141 yards with an 8-iron. “Then I had a little bit of time before—pace of play was really slow out there today—so I had some time to kind of calm myself and come back to it.”
The shot was worthy of a celebration. With the wind coming off the right and the pin tucked just four paces from the right side of the green, Olson hoisted a fade into the air then watched as her ball landed a couple of paces from the flag and trickled in. It was just the second hole-in-one of her career, with the last coming two year ago in Phoenix.
It also couldn’t have come at a better time.
Olson got off to a slow start with a bogey on her second hole of the day and was stuck at one over on the round when she made the ace to get into red figures. After that, she kept the momentum going, making three birdies over her final 10 holes.
Now she hopes she can use the good round to spur her to her first career major.
Two years ago, Olson led going into the final round of the Evian Championship only to shoot 74 on the last day to lose by one. In 15 starts this season, the North Dakota native has just one top 10, however. That came in February at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, where she finished in second, three strokes back of Inbee Park.
And while Olson said that the biggest thing she’s learned is that she won’t measure herself by how many tournaments she wins, she was thrilled about her hole-in-one.
“I was pretty excited to be able to do that at the U.S. Open,” she said.
A trophy to go with it on Sunday would be pretty sweet, too.