Yuka Saso slips to 2nd as Thompson seizes US Women’s Open lead
SAN FRANCISCO – Lexi Thompson fired five birdies without a bogey in a sparkling round on the Olympic Club Lake Course Saturday to grab a one-shot lead in the US Women’s Open.
The American’s five-under par 66 on the imposing layout gave her a 54-hole total of seven-under par 64 and a one-stroke edge over second-round leader Yuka Saso of the Philippines.
Saso, a 19-year-old whose pro resume features two wins on the Japan LPGA tour, scrambled to an even par 71 for 207 — leading by as many as two but dropping out of a share of the lead with her fourth bogey of the day at 18.
US amateur Megha Ganne, a 17-year-old New Jersey high school student, kept herself in contention with a one-over par 72 that left her sharing third on 210 with South Korean Lee6 Jeong-eun, who battled her way to a two-over 73.
China’s Feng Shanshan was alone in fifth after a 72 for 211.
Thompson was the first player to post a bogey-free round this week at Olympic Club, which has hosted five men’s US Opens but had never before hosted a women’s major.
The 2014 ANA Inspiration winner is seeking a first US Open title in her 15th attempt. She first competed in the championship as a 12-year-old amateur in 2007.
“Honestly, I just thought my patience of being out there,” Thompson said of the key to her lowest career round in a US Open.
“I struck it well all day, made a few good putts out there. And I guess probably just picking up the missed fairways or missed greens when I did, getting up-and-down or just getting it as far as I could out of that rough.
“It’s all about patience out on this golf course.”
Thompson climbed the leaderboard with three birdies on the front nine. She curled in a long birdie putt at the 14th and had the solo lead at seven-under after a birdie at 17 — where she tapped in after narrowly missing her eagle attempt.
Saso, who had opened the door to Thompson with bogeys at the 13th and 14th, regained a share of the lead when she got up and down for birdie at the 17th.
But she was unable to do the same at the last.
Saso had made a bright start with a birdie at the first, but gave that shot back at the fourth. Birdies at the seventh and 10th gave her a two-shot lead at eight-under, but she couldn’t maintain momentum coming in.
“I started good, started with a birdie followed with a bogey,” Saso said. “But I think I holed some good putts, just a little disappointing that I misread two putts, but I think it’s a great day.”
Ganne, who held the outright lead after the first round and hasn’t folded, kept herself in the hunt with a crisp short game that made up for other troubles.
“I just hit no greens, like, ever on the back nine,” said Ganne, who hit only seven greens in regulation all day and five of 14 fairways.
“It was really mentally a grind out there and I’ve never had to just perform from such bad lies and situations hole after hole and still believe that I was going to do it again on the next hole,” she said.
“So it was a lot, but I’m confident in how I’m playing.”