Attempting to earn your first career LPGA victory at the U.S. Women’s Open is challenging enough, but Amy Olson faced an even more demanding task on Monday after the unexpected death of her father-in-law on Saturday night.
The 28-year-old Olson traversed Champions Golf Club in Houston with the tragedy on her mind while intent on keeping a steely focus on the task at hand. The difficult circumstances didn’t prevent Olson from tying for second place at the prestigious event.
South Korea’s A Lim Kim won the event with a 3-under 281 total, one shot ahead of Olson and South Korea’s Jim Young Ko.
“Coming out this morning I had no idea what to expect,” Olson said after shooting a final-round 72 and earning a check for $487,286. “It was just one of those things I felt very weak and helpless the last couple days, and probably the same today on the golf course. I really believe the Lord just carried me through.
“It just makes you realize how much bigger life is than golf. But I’m pleased with my finish overall and my performance.”
Olson, playing in her 147th LPGA event, certainly couldn’t have foreseen such a situation after finishing the third round one shot behind leader Hinako Shibuno of Japan.
Then the sudden death of her father-in-law, Lee Olson, occurred Saturday night and Sunday’s round was pushed back a day due to inclement weather.
Details haven’t been divulged per the death of Lee Olson but Amy Olson’s husband, Grant, returned to their home state of North Dakota to support the family. Grant Olson is the linebackers coach at FCS power North Dakota State and married Amy in 2017.
“You know, we had a really special relationship,” Amy Olson said of her father-in-law. “He’s a big, tough, military West Point guy, loved the Army, but had a particular soft spot for the women in his life, particularly his wife and daughter-in-law.
“And just incredibly generous. Loved to hunt and fish, and we’ll have a lot of great memories to take from those activities, doing those with him.”
Olson, who is ranked 68th in the world, battled emotions on the course and confirmed that yes indeed, she was singing as he walked down the 13th fairway. Just more evidence that it was an afternoon in which mental toughness was just as important as physical strength.
“I knew I had to stay very mentally disciplined just to get through the day,” Olson said. “I allowed myself to think about what I’m grateful for, and I’ve got a long list.”
On the course, things didn’t start well for Olson as she bogeyed Nos. 2, 3 and 4. She rebounded with birdies on Holes 5 and 6 before stringing together nine consecutive pars.
Olson was in the lead when she started the back nine but her hopes took a hit when she bogeyed the par-3, No. 16 due to her approach shot soaring past the green. The mishap came at time that Kim (final-round 67) and Ko (68) were playing flawless golf.
“I tried to hit a high-cut hybrid, which I pulled off beautifully,” said Olson, “but it just — I don’t know if it caught a little downwind gust or anything, but obviously it didn’t hold the green and got kind of a tough lie behind the green and I didn’t make the up-and-down.”
Olson finished her round with a birdie on 18 and then it was time for some of the emotions to set in. She choked up during a Golf Channel interview and again during a press conference.
Yet the woman who won an NCAA record 20 college titles at North Dakota State but is winless in seven seasons on the LPGA Tour knew she took a major step on Monday.
“It was really fun to play well, to put four good rounds together, and just have a lot of confidence going into the next event,” Olson said.
(Field Level Media)