By Larry Fine
BEDMINSTER, New Jersey (Reuters) – On a leaderboard dominated by South Koreans and topped by China’s Shanshan Feng, American Stacy Lewis made a spirited charge to put a home country name into the mix at the U.S. Women’s Open on Saturday.
But the surge that catapulted Lewis within a shot of the lead midway through the third round ended in an embarrassing collapse at Trump National Golf Club.
Former world number one Lewis, winner of 11 LPGA Tour events, ran off four birdies in a row from the seventh hole to reach seven under par for the championship, one behind Feng at the time.
President Donald Trump, owner of the 500-acre complex, proudly watched the player passing his glass enclosed, private viewing suite wearing a red baseball cap with his slogan, “Make America Great Again”, brandished on the crown.
During that glorious run by Lewis, it looked like a prophecy come true.
But on the 11th hole, the 32-year-old Lewis gave back most of the strokes gained on her birdie binge.
Her approach shot on the par-four hole found the rough above the hole on the sloping green and her chip sped past the hole and ran down the steep slope back into the fairway. She ended up with a triple-bogey.
Another bogey followed, but the crowning blow to her day and championship hopes came at the par-five 18th.
Lewis found the water twice on her way to the green and registered an embarrassing quintuple-bogey 10 to card a 76 for a 218 total, 11 strokes behind Feng.
Feng, meanwhile, birdied the last after a run of 17 successive pars to stand nine under par.
One stroke back were Koreans Amy Yang and 17-year-old Choi Hye-jin, the world’s second-ranked amateur, with the next four places on the leaderboard occupied by their compatriots.
The top American was 2007 champion Cristie Kerr. The 39-year-old Kerr shot a 70 for a four-under total, five shots off the pace.
(Reporting by Larry Fine; Editing by Andrew Both)