First Round Leader Amy Olson gives chase closing within 1-stroke, Moriya Jutanugarn 2-strokes back of Shibuno
Overnight leader, Hinako Shibuno, stumbled through Saturday, recording 4-bogeys on her way to a 74 (+3). At the end of the day only two players were under par with three others at par; as Saturday proved to be a day of attrition where making a par on a hole was a good result.
The 2019 AIG Women’s Open champion, Hinako Shibuno was no exception. Over the course of the day, she saw her 3-stroke lead evaporate, ending the day with a 1-stroke lead over American Amy Olson. Shibuno did not have her best day, but she was able to grind her way through, making enough pars to stay in the lead after 56 holes. Going into Sunday, Shibuno -4 under will be paired with Olson, -3 under, and Moriya Jutanugarn , -1 under.
It looked like Shibuno was going to have a 3-stroke cushion to work with on Sunday, but an errant second shot into the greenside bunker on the 14 hole led to a two-putt for bogey. Then on the 18th hole, Shibuno’s tee shot found the middle of the fairway, leaving her with 186 yards to the hole. With the pin on 18, at the front left, guarded by bunkers on both sides, she took a more aggressive line to the hole Instead of playing to the middle of the green. She pulled her shot slightly to the left, landing on the edge of green, bounding into the greenside bunker, short-siding herself, leaving her with approximately 18 feet to the hole.
Coming out of the bunker on the short side is always a tough shot in golf, and Shibuno did well to hit her bunker shot to within 12 feet of the hole. With a tough slightly uphill putt, sliding to the left, Shibuno took her time to gauge her line and pace. Her putt was well struck, and her ball came close to the hole leaving her with a tap-in bogey.
Had she been able to save par on the final hole, she would have gone into Sunday with a more comfortable two-stroke lead instead of a single shot. “I made mistake at the very beginning and because I'm not doing well today my premise wasn't good today, so all the holes seemed to be very difficult for me … I was very nervous … because I was on top of everybody, (leaderboard).”
Meanwhile, first round leader, Amy Olson, carded a 71 (E) on Saturday, to leave her in second place, one-shot behind Shibuno. Olson’s round was a “little bit up, and a little bit down” as she recorded 2 – bogeys to go with 1-birdie on the front, going out in 37 strokes. Her back nine was a little more on the “upside” as she recorded a bogey on 10, with 2 – birdies on 13 and 17 to get her score down to par for the day.
Olson only recorded 11 Greens in Regulation today, but her putting and greenside play was strong, going 1 for 1 with sand saves while recording 29 putts on the round. With the 13th hole being the only Par – 5 on the back nine at Cypress, Olson made the most of it, birdying the hole after her second shot came up short. Her third shot came within 4’4” (4 feet, 4 inches) of the hole, with Olson calmly converting the putt for a welcome birdie. On the Par – 4 17th hole, Olson struck a solid tee shot to the right side of the fairway, leaving her with a 133 yard shot to the pin. Her approach shot was also well struck leaving her with a short 2’5” (2 ft. 5 in.) putt that she converted for another birdie.
Being able to go into Sunday, playing in the last group and with only a single stroke behind the leader, Olson was satisfied with her round. “Yeah, I'm really pleased with how I played today. It was such a grind, I just, pars were a great score on every single hole today. Fortunately made a couple good birdies, especially the one on 17 coming in. Some really solid par putts and that's really what it comes down to is making those putts whether they're for birdie or par. So I'm very pleased with how I played.”
LPGA veteran, Moriya Jutanugarn, will be joining Olson and Shibuno in the last grouping of the final round after Jutanugarn was able to post a +1 (72) on Saturday, leaving her 2-shots back of Shibuno. Moriya and her younger sister Ariya Jutanugarn the 2018 US Women’s Open Champion were grouped together with Houston native Stacy Lewis. Moriya posted a solid 35 on the front nine on the strength of birdies on holes 5 and 8 with her lone bogey coming on the par – 4, 6th hole. For much of the back nine, it looked like Moriya was going to finish her day at -1, but a double bogey on the par – 4, 17th hole set Moriya back to +1 for the day.
On the 386-yard 17th, her tee shot found the rough on the right side of the fairway, leaving her 162 yards to the pin. Her second shot came up short leaving her with less than 46 feet to the hole. Her next shot traveled some 52 yards, badly overshooting the hole to the back of the green. With a front right pin location, Moriya was left with 37 yards to the hole. She took three more shots to get down for a double bogey.
Had Moriya been able to limit the damage to just a bogey, she would have been able to start Sunday’s final round with only a 2-shot difference between her and leader, Shibuno. “I mean I'm pretty happy with how I played today, to be honest. And it's just like, for me it's just like I got one bad break and just one bad hole and everything's pretty solid, but I don't know, it's just like I just think like all the majors you have to be patient and just take it when you can and something like that.”
Amateur Kaitlyn Papp from nearby University of Texas (Austin) emerged from Saturday’s tough playing conditions as the top amateur after carding a 74 (+3), leaving her at Even par and a share of 5th place heading into Sunday. “I feel like mentally I'm proud of myself for staying patient today, I didn't play as well as I wanted to and so I think heading into tomorrow I'm going to go hit a few balls on the range and just see what tomorrow brings me. . . . I think when the conditions get tough you really have to be mentally strong and you can't let yourself complain, no matter how bad it is. So I think tomorrow everyone's going to just have to do a good job of being tough and staying patient.”
When asked of her experience of playing on Saturday with Hinako Shibuno, Papp commented that “Her (Shibuno’s) demeanour was great. She was really neutral the whole day, never got too high or too low.” Papp is in the third to last group on Sunday, teeing off at 9:13 am, with fellow American, Megan Khang and World Number One, Jin Young Ko.
Quote of the Day
Our quote of the day came from Ariya Jutanugarn, speaking about the experience of playing with her sister in the U.S. Women’s Open
“She's (Moriya) been playing so well today; her game is really solid. Every time after I hit my tee shot, I look back, she like 30 (yards) behind, but she hit closer. And then when I hit on the green, she makes the putt and I miss the putt.”
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