Allison Corpuz passed a difficult exam at the Pebble Beach Golf Links to outlast the competition and win her first LPGA event–the Women’s US Open. Corpuz displayed significant grit and confidence persevering through a golf course that was set up to be a difficult test and it was. Corpuz was the only competitor with all four rounds under par and she avoided any terrible mistakes that beset most if not all the competitors in the field. Corpuz was a shot behind Nasa Hataoka to begin the final round but it seemed that Sunday was going to generate some movement from the field. Charley Hull turned out to be the only player to move up the leader board and posted a 66-the best round of the day. Hull generated a mini charge and got to within two shots of Corpuz but Corpuz did not falter and recorded two birdies on 14 and 15 to essentially waltz in to the victory. Hull’s enthusiasm was infectious and got the crowd going-she went for the green in 2 with her tee shot barely outside the tree in the middle of the 18th fairway and almost pulled it off. She had started the day seven shots behind. Jiyai Shin tied Hull for second with a final round 68 but fell 3 shots short. Corpuz emerges as the first woman to win the Women’s Open at Pebble Beach. The pressure on Corpuz had to be enormous as many thoughts go through your mind as to what could go wrong on the way to the house. It seemed like that she was in a trance and keep the swing repeating shot after shot by slowing things down and taking one shot at a time. Other competitors in the event suffered a bit from these feelings as a wayward drive or missed chip shot produced the bogies that put the player out of contention. The tournament was a grind for the players from start to finish but the experience of playing a major championship at the iconic links was an experience that they will never forget.
The USGA did a terrific job in setting up the golf course as a fair but strenuous test. The course played to a little over 6,500 yards and the length of the course was a factor in the scoring. Holes such as the 5th and the 8th were played from the men’s championship tees and these holes generated considerable carnage for many of the players. In the first round, Lydia Ko snap hooked her tee shot on the 181 yard, par 3 hole into the bushes on the left side of the hole and ended up with a seven, which essentially was the end of the tournament for her. The 5th tee was moved forward to the regular men’s tee at 142 yards providing a breather from the continuous grind of the event. The 8th hole was “waterloo” for a number of the players. The hole was played from the men’s championship tees and with the wind blowing in their faces-many of the players had over 200 yards to cross the chasm to get onto the green. Irish amateur Aime Donegan was the first round leader and was 3 under par after a birdie on the 7th hole in the third round when her approach shot to the green failed to cross the chasm and after going back to the drop zone, hit another ball in the chasm eventually recording a 9 on the hole moving her from -3 to +6. This hole would essentially cost her low amateur status and she finished 1 shot behind low amateur Benedetta Moresco. The No. 2 player in the world, Nelly Korda, hit a 154 yard drive on this hole and could not navigate the chasm. Lexi Thompson failed to make the cut in large part with a shot to the 8th green that did not survive the chasm. On the other side of the ledger, amateur Amari Avery hit an incredible 246 yard shot over the chasm onto this green for a routine par in the final round. Amari Avery will be a factor on the LPGA as she has a ton of talent but perhaps will have to deal with the ups and downs that the gods of golf hand out from time to time. The easiest holes were the par 5’s on the front side as holes 2 and 6 played to a number of birdies and a few eagles
As is usual with Pebble, the scoring has to come from the first seven holes and then hang on for the remaining holes. Birdies on holes 8-18 are possible but these holes are the toughest part of the course. The crowd favorite, Rose Zhang, who was playing in her second LPGA championship in her first three events as a professional, completed another top 10 finish. Her ball striking and all around play was first rate but enough putts did not go in for her to contend at the top. She had a number of putts within 18″ of the hole. Rose will be a major factor in this championship and on the LPGA for years to come.
The USGA can be proud of what was accomplished here. The purse for the event was the highest that the women will see on the LPGA Tour this year. The women demonstrated significant skills on a golf course that was set up to be demanding as many of the tees were placed at the men’s championship markers. Only 9 players in the field were able to break par. It took quite a bit of skill and grit to pull it off but Allison Corpuz can really be proud of her first LPGA tour victory and a major championship as well.