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U.S. Women's Open 2020: Teenager with chance at history is getting help from veteran caddie

December 12, 2020
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Carmen Mandato

Yealimi Noh plays her shot from the third tee during the third round of the 75th U.S. Women's Open.

HOUSTON — Lexi Thompson made headlines earlier this week at the U.S. Women’s Open for employing Bryson DeChameau’s caddie, Tim Tucker.

Thompson missed the cut. But there’s another PGA Tour caddie—Dave Stone, who normally loops for Bo Hoag—carrying a bag this week at Champions Golf Club, and he could be on the verge of being a part of history.

Yealimi Noh, who is playing in her first U.S. Women’s Open, enters Sunday’s final round tied for fifth and just five strokes off the lead. Should the recently turned 19-year-old California native go on to win, she would be the youngest winner in tournament history, breaking the mark of Inbee Park, who captured the 2008 title at 19 years, 11 months and 17 days.

“I didn't know that,” she said after a 72 on Saturday. “Just hoping to play my best [Sunday] and just not have any regrets.”

Stone certainly doesn’t have any.

With the PGA Tour off until January, a fellow caddie connected Noh and Stone, who was a caddie on the LPGA from 2010-15. So he picked up her bag beginning at last weeks Volunteers of America Classic, where Noh shared the lead going into the final round before finishing in a tie for second. He’ll be on the bag for next week’s CME Group Tour Championship, too.

“So far it’s been pretty good,” Stone said. “I have zero complaints.”

The transition from a PGA Tour bag to one on the LPGA wasn’t all that difficult for Stone given his resume. He said both Hoag and Noh are similar players in that they have great golf IQs and know how to dissect a hole.

But there are some differences.

“The course is playing soft and long this week, and they’re hitting hybrids and fairway woods into holes, but the accuracy is incredible out here,” Stone said. “The guy’s game has changed. They’re trying to bomb everything.”

As for Stone’s impact on Noh?

“[He helps] my approach shots into the green, just helping me find the straightest putt on the green,” she said. “And just giving me a lot of confidence around the greens, too. I was struggling a bit before last week, but he really helped me gain more confidence in just keeping me calm on the course.”

That could certainly come in handy on Sunday, too.