U.S. Women's Open
December 13, 2020

U.S. Women's Open 2020: There are plenty of intriguing possible winners for the Monday finish

1290918970

Carmen Mandato

Third-round leader Hinako Shibuno can win her second major title on Monday.

HOUSTON — Given the way the rest of 2020 has gone, it seems fitting the outcome of the year’s final major would have to wait another day.

After play in the fourth round was suspended on Sunday by rain and dangerous thunderstorms, the 75th U.S. Women’s Open at Champions Golf Club was pushed to a Monday finish—its first since 2011 in Colorado, when there were numerous weather delays at The Broadmoor.

The final round will resume at 9 a.m. ET on Monday with Japan’s Hinako Shibuno at four under and holding a one-shot lead over Amy Olson. Moriya Jutanugarn and Ji Yeong Kim2 are tied for third, three strokes back.

On Sunday, with tee times already moved up to try to beat the expected bad weather, and Shibuno about a half hour from teeing off in the day’s final threesome, about a third of the 65 players who made the cut didn’t even tee off as a line of thunderstorms rolled into the area. With the Cypress Creek course already wet and muddy from three-quarters of an inch of rain over 24 hours, it wasn’t long before USGA officials rendered it unplayable as heavy rains continued to fall on and off throughout the afternoon.

1290895968

Carmen Mandato

in her seventh season on the LPGA, Amy Olson is seeking her first victory.

As for Shibuno, the 22-year-old from Japan dubbed the “Smiling Cinderella” following her joyous victory at last year’s Women’s British Open, she’s seeking her second career major title. She started the third round with a four-stroke lead but saw that cut to just a single stroke following a bogey on the final hole of the third round to cap a three-over 74.

Olson, meanwhile, is coming off a 71 in the third round and looking for her first career victory in what is her seventh year on the LPGA after a stellar amateur and collegiate career that included an NCAA-record 20 titles at North Dakota State University. She is a former USGA champion, having captured the 2009 U.S. Girls’ Junior Amateur. She also is dealing with heart break after learning of the unexpected death of her father-in-law on Saturday night.

The only other players under par through 54 holes are Jutanugarn and Kim2, both at one under.

Just five others, meanwhile, are at even par. Included in that group is Moriya’s younger sister and former world No. 1 Ariya Jutanugarn, who is looking for her third career major and second U.S. Open after winning it in 2018. Should Moriya win, they would be the first pair of sisters to capture a U.S. Open title. Also at even par are former world No. 1 Lydia Ko, who is working her way back from a two-year winless slump under new coach Sean Foley, and 19-year-old Yealimi Noh, who is bidding to become the youngest winner in championship history.

The other two players at even are Megan Khang, who is seeking her first win, and amateur Kaitlyn Papp, a University of Texas student who found out earlier this week she’d been accepted into the school’s graduate program. Only once has an amateur won the U.S. Women’s Open, with Caroline Lacoste having done so in 1967.

Whoever goes on to win, they will likely have to overcome tough conditions on Monday. Though no rain is in the forecast, temperatures are expected to be brisk—in the low 40s—when play resumes. Mud also will likely be a factor. In anticipation of the wet conditions, officials had already moved several tee boxes up for the final round, shortening the overall length of the course from 6,635 yards in the third round to 6,399 yards for the final round.