Jun 3rd, 2022
Mina Harigae leads U.S. Women’s Open
As Ingrid Lindblad sets lowest amateur score record
Now 32 and a longtime veteran of the LPGA Tour, Harigae is back in the North Carolina Sandhills as one of nine players in this year’s U.S. Women’s Open field to have competed in that 2007 championship.
If Thursday’s opening round in sweltering conditions is any indicator, her finish this time will be a lot better than a tie for 66th.
The Monterey, Calif., native, who is making her 12th start in the championship, fired a seven-under-par 64 over the 6,600-yard, par-71 Donald Ross layout late in the day to upstage a record amateur performance by Ingrid Lindblad. It was Harigae’s first sub-seventy score in 37 championship rounds, and she entered the week a cumulative 127 over par.
Her 64 also was one stroke off the 18-hole championship record held by Helen Alfredsson (1994), who won the 2019 U.S. Senior Women’s Open at Pine Needles in 2019. Five others had posted 64s, the last coming from Mirim Lee six years ago at CordeValle.
Battling temperatures that reached into the 90s, Harigae, a three-time winner on the Symetra Tour (now Epson Tour) went out in five-under 30 before adding four birdies – against two bogeys – on the inward nine. That included a chip-in 2 on the 164-yard 16th hole.
“I was just really calm out there,” said Harigae, who spent one semester at Duke University in 2008 before turning pro in early 2009. “Could be because of the heat. I didn't want to expend too much energy, so I was basically in the zone.
“Putting is what really gave me the confidence being able to hit into greens and such.”
On Wednesday, Harigae’s caddie, Travis Kreiter, spent some time helping her adjust her putting grip and the result was 24 putts, which led the field.
A few hours earlier, Lindblad, 22, of Sweden, the No. 2 player in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking®, also put on a dazzling display on the greens, needing just 26 putts in shooting a sizzling six-under-par 65, the lowest round ever by an amateur in the U.S. Women’s Open.
An All-American at Louisiana State University, where she just completed her junior year, Lindblad bested the amateur mark of 66 previously held by seven-time USGA champion Carol Semple Thompson (1994), two-time major champion Brittany Lincicome (2004) and current LPGA Tour rookie Gina Kim (2019), who was the low amateur in this championship three years ago at the Country Club of Charleston.
Lindblad played a near-flawless round, registering six birdies against one bogey (par-5 10th), which came on her second hole of the day following a birdie on No. 9. The 2022 Southeastern Conference individual champion arrived at Pine Needles fresh off a tie for third in the NCAA Division I Championship 10 days ago in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Lindblad, making her second U.S. Women’s Open start, has positioned herself for a run at history. Only one amateur has hoisted the Harton S. Semple Trophy, and interestingly enough, it was a fellow European, Catherine Lacoste of France (1967).
“I was at the amateur reception [Tuesday night] and they said that just one amateur has won it,” said Lindblad, who played alongside fellow Swede and three-time U.S. Women’s Open champion Annika Sorenstam and 2011 champ So Yeon Ryu. “I know Megha [Ganne] played really good last year, and I know Maja [Stark] also from Sweden has played really good like two years in a row. Yeah, it's possible.”
Plenty of accomplished players are right on the heels of Harigae and Lindblad, including two major winners from 2021, Minjee Lee (Evian) and Anna Nordqvist (AIG Women’s British Open), both of whom carded four-under 67s. Ryann O’Toole, who broke through for her first LPGA Tour win last summer at the Trust Golf Women’s Scottish Open, also carded a 67.
Lexi Thompson, who came up a stroke shy of the playoff last year at The Olympic Club, was three back after a 68. She was joined at that number by Ally Ewing, while world No. 1 Jin Young Ko, 2017 champion Sung Hyun Park, major champion Sei Young Kim, and 2020 runner-up Amy Olson were among 10 players to post two-under 69.