U.S. Women’s Open 2020: Amy Olson can notch her first pro win on the grandest stage

HOUSTON—Amy Olson’s week at the U.S. Women’s Open began with a hole-in-one in the opening round. It was just the second that she’s made in competition.

Now she hopes it ends with something that’s been even more elusive: a victory—in a major no less.

Making the 147th start of her career this week, the 28-year-old from North Dakota will enter the final round at Champions Golf Club just a stroke off the lead of Hinako Shibuno after shooting an even-par 71 on Saturday. She was just one of five players to score par or better in the muddy, difficult conditions after heavy rain the day before saturated the Cypress Creek Course.

“It was such a grind,” Olson said. “Pars were a great score on every single hole today. Fortunately made a couple good birdies, especially the one on 17 coming in.”

Olson began the day in a tie for third but fell down the leaderboard after making two bogeys in her first six holes. Then she bounced back with a birdie on the par-5 ninth. She gave it right back with a bogey one hole later, but persevered and added another birdie on the par-5 13th before adding one more on the par-4 17th with a terrific 8-iron approach that nearly went in the hole.

“Same shot as I hit for my hole-in-one actually on Thursday,” she said. “A little cut 8-iron, almost the same number.”

Now she has her sights set on another number: trying to capture the first title of her career. She’s come close before.

In 2018, Olson was in the final group on Sunday at the ANA Inspiration but shot 72 to tie for ninth. Later that summer, she was tied for the lead going into the final round of the Evian Championship and led by one going into the 72nd hole, but made a double bogey to lose by one.

This year, Olson has just one top-10 finish in 15 starts, but did finish second at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open in February, three strokes back of Inbee Park.

Now comes another opportunity in career that, for good reason, was expected to be filled with victories. In college, Olson won 20 titles while at North Dakota State, easily breaking Juli Inskter’s NCAA record of 17. Her decorated amateur career also included a victory at the 2009 U.S. Girls’ Junior and in 2012 she represented the U.S. in the Curtis Cup.

Since turning pro in 2013, however, she’s had to learn to be patient because the victories failed to materialize. That same patience has come in handy this week, too. Especially on Saturday.

“There were about 18 [mud balls],” Olson joked. “At one point I laughed, and it was, like, is it going to be in a divot or a mud ball? Because it was one or the other pretty much all day. So I’m really hoping that we either do lift, clean and place or it’s so wet [Sunday] that the water just pulls the mud off, I don’t know.”

The forecast for Sunday calls for more rain, and possibly lightning, which is why the USGA moved up tee times to try to beat the bad weather. Players will tee off in threesomes, with Olson joining Shibuno and Moriya Jutanugarn, who is two back of Olson, in the final group at 10:35 a.m. (ET).

Still, it’s likely she’ll have to play through at least some bad weather and those conditions will again test Olson’s patience. But that’s nothing new. At the start of the week, she said that when she turned pro she expected to win early on in her career.

Seven years later, she’s still waiting.

“It obviously would be a huge accomplishment, something that you dream about as a kid,” Olson said of the possibility of capturing the U.S. Women’s Open. “But obviously that’s a long way away.”

How much longer, we’ll find out on Sunday.


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