As if Canadian Naomi Ko wasn’t already feeling the usual big-tournament nerves, her father slipped in one important detail on the drive down to the 36-hole U.S. Women’s Open sectional qualifier Monday at The Home Course.
Only the sole survivor moves on.
That meant just the winner of the 48-player field would head to CordeValle Golf Course in July to play in the U.S. national golf championship with the likes of Inbee Park, Stacy Lewis, Lexi Thompson and teenage sensation Lydia Ko.
And this Ko, a Victoria, B.C. native who is a freshman at North Carolina State, overtook all the leaders with her 5-under-par 67 in the final round on the championship course in Dupont.
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Ko’s 3-under 141 total edged Caroline Inglis (143), a University of Oregon golfer who was the midway co-leader Monday.
Four back-nine birdies fueled the comeback bid — starting with her wedge approach at the par-5 10th hole. Ko stuffed it to within 4 feet, and sank the putt.
“I kept it going,” Ko said.
On a blustery back nine, Ko also birdied Nos. 14, 16, and 17 — and did not make any bogeys on the more difficult side.
In her fourth qualifying attempt, Ko now gets to play in the U.S. Women’s Open for the first time.
“I’ve played in a lot of U.S. Open qualifiers before and never played well,” Ko said. “I just think it was because of my lack of experience, and being around (professionals) and not feeling … as good as them.”
Before heading to North Carolina State last fall, Ko spent three years on the Canadian national development team.
“This means a lot,” Ko said. “It will be something I can work toward throughout the summer, and have a goal.”
Inglis, the Pac-12 individual champion for the Ducks in 2015, was the only other golfer under-par Monday. At one point in the final round, she was 3-under. But she fell back after bogeys at the seventh and ninth holes.
Former two-time Class 4A champion Alivia Brown, a Bellarmine Prep graduate now at Washington State University, was the low local Monday. She tied for 11th at 5-over 149. She said she will try and qualify for the U.S. Women’s Amateur — and has applied for the North-South Amateur. …
There is a new Bordeaux on the golf scene – 13-year-old Julia Bordeaux. She tried qualifying Monday, and had cousin T.J. — who played The Home Course as part of the 2010 U.S. Amateur field, and is now a touring professional — on her bag. “She just asked,” he said. …
Kenedee Peters, the reigning Washington State Golf Association junior girls player of the year, played in her second U.S. Women’s Open qualifier. She tied for 24th at 158. In a month, she will defend her Class 2A title for Ephrata High. …
Touted Bremerton teenager Brittany Kwon (illness) withdrew before play started. She played in last year’s U.S. Women’s Amateur. … Thirty-nine of the 48 golfers who signed up were amateurs.