Meadow misses out as Saso hits the front at US Women’s Open

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Meadow misses out as Saso hits the front at US Women’s Open

Stephanie Meadow (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

Stephanie Meadow saw her hopes of a big week cut short in San Francisco as she missed out on the weekend rounds of the US Women’s Open by two shots at The Olympic Club.

The Jordanstown professional would’ve known that an even par second round would’ve been enough to ensure weekend progression but that was easier said than done on the treacherous San Fran layout where just eleven players are under par heading into the weekend.

29-year old Meadow added a three-over 74 to her opening 76 to finish at eight-over par, just two shots outside the cut-line and 14 back from halfway leader Yuka Saso from the Philippines who followed her first-round 69 with a brilliant four-under 67, tied for the second-lowest round of the day, with six birdies and two bogeys moving her to six-under par.

Playing in temperatures that barely peaked into the 50s, Saso only hit six fairways, spending more time than she’d like in Olympic’s thick and penal rough. But she used her strength to her advantage, powering out of the tall grass with a very simple mentality.

“If I go in the rough, my mindset is just to go for the fairway,” said Saso. “It’s really long and like sticky, so yeah, it’s really hard to get on from it. But yeah, I’m glad that I’m a little bit good out of it.”

Once Saso finds the green, she’s been one of the strongest putters this week, hitting 66.6% greens in regulation and tied for second with 53 total putts.

With a win, Saso would become the 31st player to win an LPGA Tour title as a non-Member. It would also mark the third consecutive year with a non-Member taking a major title, following A Lim Kim (2020 U.S. Women’s Open), Sophia Popov (2020 AIG Women’s Open) and Hinako Shibuno (2019 AIG Women’s Open).

2019 U.S. Women’s Open champion Jeongeun Lee6 carded a late flurry of birdies at 15, 16 and 17 to earn solo second at -5. She’s followed by sixth-year LPGA Tour player Megan Khang and amateur Megha Ganne in a tie for third at -4. Ganne, a 17-year-old Stanford commit who was tied for the lead after 18 holes, carded an even-par 71 on Friday and is reveling in her new-found spotlight, even getting a Twitter shoutout from the governor of her native New Jersey.

“I wish every event I had a gallery watching me because it just makes me play better, I think,” said Ganne. “And I love being in the spotlight, so it’s been really fun.”

With a second-round 69, Inbee Park set the championship record for the most sub-par rounds with 25. She had previously been tied for first with two other greats of the game in Beth Danieland Betsy King. Park moves to the weekend at -2 overall, tied for seventh with fellow major champions Lexi Thompson and Ariya Jutanguarn.

“There aren’t that many holes that I can actually make a birdie on this golf course,” said Park, who won the U.S. Women’s Open in 2008 and 2013. “I really tried to take advantage of the par-5s when I hit the short irons, which I did.”

Meadow wasn’t the only one whose week was cut short by the +6 cut, with 66 players advancing to weekend competition. 2020 U.S. Women’s Open champion A Lim Kim finished at +7 and became the first defending champion to miss the cut since Sung Hyun Park in 2018.

Other notables who did not reach the weekend include U.S. Women’s Open champions Park (+8), Paula Creamer (+9), Brittany Lang (+9), Cristie Kerr (+10) and Michelle Wie West (+12), as well as AIG Women’s Open winners Hinako Shibuno (+7) and Sophia Popov (+8). Nelly Korda shot +11 to head home early, while her sister Jessica Korda advanced to the final two rounds at +4, tied for 36th.

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