Twenty-three amateurs will take the tee at the 71st US Women’s Open Championship with visions of sugarplums in their heads. Well, probably not sugarplums, but certainly visions of Catherine Lacoste.
Could there be another Catherine Lacoste in the 2016 US Women’s Open field, an amateur who will deliver 72 holes of flawless or nearly flawless golf and claim one of the grandest prizes in the game? It’s not likely. The odds are against it.
Lacoste certainly beat the odds in 1967. Playing her third professional tournament – and making her 2nd US Women’s Open start – the 22-year old delivered a golf game at The Homestead in Hot Springs, Virginia that couldn’t be matched. Louise Suggs certainly tried. But Lacoste grabbed the lead in the 2nd round of the Championship and didn’t give it up. Her sturdy, powerful swing and her skilled control of her 1-iron and 2-wood – clubs most women golfers never attempt to master – served her well as she powered her way around The Homestead.
Sunday is always a tough day at the US Women’s Open and storms made the 4th round at the 1967 Championship more difficult than usual. Lacoste started Sunday with a lead and held on to it. When Louise Suggs’ ball found the water on the 16th Catherine Lacoste cruised home with a 2 stroke lead to become the first, and to date the only, amateur to hoist the US Women’s Open trophy. Her final score? An unimpressive 294, 10 strokes over par. 1967 was a tough year for the women!
The amateur field at CordeValle will need to get through Friday and Saturday before they can let themselves even think about that glorious Sunday round. Realistically, most of them are likely to be retired from the field after the 2nd round.
Three, however, are likely to play the weekend. Let’s take a closer look at these standout amateurs.
Hannah O’Sullivan got her ticket to the US Women’s Open punched when she won the 2015 US Women’s Amateur.
CordeValle isn’t O’Sullivan’s first pro golf rodeo. She qualified for her first US Women’s Open at the age of 12, in 2012. The 18-year old Californian made the cut in 2015 at both the US Women’s Open and the Evian Championship – Catherine Lacoste finished T14 at her debut in 1965. O’Sullivan also took low amateur honors at the 2015 ANA Inspiration and also notched a Symetra Tour win at the 2015 Gateway Classic.
The top-ranked woman amateur in the world, O’Sullivan has decided to bypass the opportunity to play collegiate golf for the USC Trojans and head directly to LPGA Q-School. With her resume, which includes membership on three victorious USA teams (2015 PING Junior Solheim Cup, 2015 Trans-Pacific Junior Golf Match, and 2014 Junior Ryder Cup), Q-School should prove an easy hurdle. We can all look forward to her rookie year in 2017, unless she wins the 2016 US Women’s Open and follows Catherine Lacoste into the record books!
A win a CordeValle would get O’Sullivan instant Tour membership. What a way to jump start a career!
I’ve been following Leona Maguire since I watched her deliver some incredibly scrappy golf during the 2015 NCAA Division I Golf Championship. She’s gritty and determined and doesn’t take well to being runner-up when she thinks she should win! She’s just plain fun to watch.
Maguire has compiled an impressive list of honors and awards – 2015 ACC Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year, 2015 ANNIKA Award, 2014–15 Golfstat Cup, twice selected to the Women’s Golf Coaches Association (WGCA) All-America first team – but it was the Mark H. McCormack medal, given annually to the top-ranked amateur in the world, that got her ticket to the 71st US Women’s Open punched.
Like Hanna O’Sullivan, Leona Maguire is no stranger to competition on golf’s big stage. She finished runner-up at the Ladies European Tour 2015 ISPS Handa Ladies European Masters and look low amateur honors at the 2015 Evian Championship.
Maguire is playing collegiate golf for the Duke Blue Devils. In her sophomore year, the Irishwoman shows no signs of rushing into a pro career, although a victory at CordeValle might force her to rethink her career track.
Sierra Brooks is going to celebrate her 18th birthday during the 71st US Women’s Open and she’ll be heading to Wake Forest and some collegiate golf this fall. Brooks, who’s the 5th ranked amateur in the world, got her ticket to CordeValle punched when she finished runner-up to Hannah O’Sullivan at the 2015 US Women’s Amateur. Now they’ll meet again for a private rematch inside the big contest!
This will be Sierra’s US Women’s Open debut – she also played this year in the ANA Inspiration. But her experience to date has been primarily on the amateur circuit, where she’s acquitted herself very nicely, despite those tears she shed over her runner-up finish at the US Amateur. Five-time ANNIKA Invitational and two-time SALLY Tournament participant, 2016 Curtis Cup 2015 Ping Junior Solheim Cup – Sierra Brooks has been playing her way steadily toward her CordeValle tee time.
Brooks will need to toughen up a bit emotionally, however if she’s going to survive golf’s big stage. It’s a game where everybody, including Lydia Ko, loses more rounds and more tournaments than they win.
I’ll check on on these amateurs after the 2nd round and let you know how they did on Cut Day at CordeValle.
Cover Photo via YouTube