CHARLESTON, S.C. — A tricky golf course, severe heat and major championship pressure are among the myriad challenges players are facing this week at the U.S. Women's Open. For Stanford's Andrea Lee, you can also add ethics and bioengineering to that list.
Ethics and what?
For those unaware, bioengineering is the short term for biological engineering, otherwise known as the application of engineering knowledge to the fields of medicine and biology, at least according to the ol' Google machine. While some of us were watching the Stanley Cup on Wednesday night, Lee was writing a paper on that very topic. Making that task all the more difficult was the fact she had a 7:22 a.m. tee time at the Country Club of Charleston on Thursday.
Lee, 20, is the No. 2-ranked female amateur in the world, and is currently finishing up her junior year at Stanford University. Just last week she was playing in the NCAA Women's Golf Championships, where her team advanced to the match play stage for the fifth straight year. The Cardinal were knocked out by eventual champion Duke in the quarterfinals, 3-2, but Lee did her part, winning her match on the 19th hole over Duke's Jaravee Boonchant.
This week she's competing in just her third U.S. Women's Open, the first coming in 2014 at Pinehurst, where she finished 69th. Her second start came a year ago at Shoal Creek, where she opened with an 82 and wound up missing the cut by nine shots.
Lee's third crack at the Open got off to a much more auspicious start on Thursday, as she fired a two-under 69 at the County Club of Charleston to position herself inside the top 10. The round came just hours after Lee was grinding out an essay for school, one her professor was kind enough to give her some extra time to complete.
"It was due last night, but my teacher got back to me at like 9:00 p.m. saying, 'oh, I'll give you a one-day extension,'" said Lee. "I was like, great, I pretty much just finished it.
"It's an ethics and bioengineering class. It's a writing class. I had to write about four essays this quarter for that. It's kind of tough to write."
Kind of sounds like an understatement, although it was only 900 words. Actually, it still sounds "kind of" hard.
"They're very strict on the word limit, and I have to write really concise arguments. So it's hard to condense that into a 900-word essay is kind of tough sometimes. But it's done now."
Also done is her spectacular round of 69, which featured birdies on her final two holes, the eighth and ninth. Through 13 Lee was one over, but then went birdie, birdie, bogey, birdie, birdie to finish.
"I played steady golf all day, just kind of parred my way through. Had eight pars straight and then bogeyed on nine, but stayed really patient out there. The pins were tucked today. Just try to put it in the right spots and kind of worked out on the back nine.
"Took advantage of the par 5s and managed to birdie the sixth hole, the tough par 3, which was kind of a bonus, I guess. And then finished off here on 18 -- or nine with a birdie. So really happy with the way I played today."
The hard work isn't done yet for Lee, both on and off the course. The school year doesn't end until next Friday, which means more double duty this week.
"I have final papers to write now for next week. I'm not done with school yet. I finish, I think, next Friday. But I have papers due next week too, so I'll probably get started on those.
"It's tough to balance school and golf sometimes, but kind of got used to it, I guess, at Stanford."
If the paper is anywhere near as good as her opening round, an A+ may be in order.