Before the leading contenders take to the stage, word of the first-round leader Mel Reid. A 67 on Thursday sparked talk of a possible maiden major for the 33-year-old from Derby. She looked focused, bang in the zone, a study in determination. But all that intensity must have been mentally exhausting. A disappointing 73 on Friday, then a strange 78 yesterday that variously featured a shank, a whiffed chip and a hole-out from 100 yards for eagle. Out of contention, she’s already carded a couple of bogeys today, at 2 and 4, and has slipped down to +7. But when it all comes down, this week should give her plenty of confidence going forward. As a late bloomer in the majors, compared to your Lexis, Inbees and Lydias, she’s trending in the right direction. Glory soon?
The tee times for the final groups at the business end of this US Open, then. All BST.
5.59pm: Kim Hyo-joo, Maja Stark (a), Brooke Henderson
6.11pm: Megan Khang, Inbee Park, Angel Yin
6.23pm: Jeongeun Lee6, Shanshan Feng, Nasa Hataoka
6.35pm: Lexi Thompson, Yuka Saso, Megha Ganne (a)
It almost defies belief that Lexi Thompson has only one major title to her name. When she won the Kraft Nabisco in 2014 at 19, it was assumed that she’d start racking up the slams with Sorenstamian regularity. But for one reason and another, it’s never quite happened. Three second places in the majors, three thirds, 16 top-ten finishes. It’s about that time, and yesterday’s flawless 66 was carpe-diem stuff. This is the first time she’s led the US Open after any round, a stat that might not say much about most 26-year-olds, but Thompson first played in this tournament in 2007 at the precocious age of 12. This is her 15th consecutive appearance. Is she finally going to land major number two?
Yuka Saso is best placed to stop her. The powerful Filipino spent most of yesterday’s round driving like Seve, but no matter, thanks to her ability to gouge back into position, as though the penal Olympic Club rough wasn’t there, and her scrambling skills around the greens; she chips a bit like Seve, too. If she wins today, she’ll join Inbee Park as the only teenage winner of the US Open. Park won in 2008 at 19 years, 11 months and 17 days; that’s Saso’s exact age today. Some things seem written.
Or could Megha Ganne become only the second amateur to win the US Open, matching the feat of Catherine Lacoste in 1967? The 17-year-old from New Jersey received vociferous support from the gallery yesterday, at one point getting to within a shot of the lead. When asked for her secret, she smiled: “I figure why not make it fun?” She’s the real deal.
Some big names are lurking, including 2019 champion Jeongeun Lee6, 2012 PGA winner Shanshan Feng, major champs in waiting Nasa Hataoka and Megan Khang, and seven-time major winner Inbee Park. Should Thompson and Saso hit their stride, it will be a two-woman race, but anything can happen at Olympic Club, and it can happen to the best of them: just ask Arnold Palmer, who lost a seven-stroke lead on the back nine to Billy Casper in the 1966 men’s version. The final round of the 76th US Women’s Open is very much on. Our coverage begins at 6pm BST.
-7: Lexi Thompson
-6: Yuka Saso
-3: Megha Ganne, Jeongeun Lee6
-2: Shanshan Feng
-1: Nasa Hataoka, Megan Khang
E: Inbee Park