News & Opinion

2020 U.S. Women’s Open: Weather delays final round till Monday

Hinako Shibuno leadss after 3rd round 2020 U.S. Women's Open
Hinako Shibuno, known as ‘Smiling Cinderella’ since her victory in the 2019 Women’s British Open in her 1st tournament outside of her native Japan, walks off the 18th hole at Champions Golf Club’s Cypress Creek Course with caddie Keisuke Fujino and the 54-hole lead Saturday. She did not start her final round Sunday before rain suspended play and will take a 1-stroke lead into Monday’s conclusion.

Japan’s Hinako Shibuno will take a 1-stroke lead over American Amy Olson into the final round at Champions Golf Club in Houston

Inclement weather suspended play in the final round of the 75th U.S. Women’s Open on Sunday at Champions Golf Club in Houston, postponing the conclusion until Monday. Japan’s Hinako Shibuno held a one-stroke lead over American Amy Olson, who is looking for her first LPGA victory, in her seventh season. Shibuno stood at 4-under 209 through 54 holes, and Olson was 3-under 210 (scores).

Shibuno, 22, won the 2019 Women’s British Open in her first tournament played outside of Japan, adopting the nickname “Smiling Cinderella” for her ever-present grin. She also won four times on her native LPGA of Japan Tour in 2019, presumably with a smile. She finished no better than T-51 in the LPGA's three major championships of 2020. Only two other players, Thailand’s Moriya Jutanugarn and South Korea’s Ji Yeong Kim2, were under par. They were tied for third at 1-under 212.

They were among the 18 players who had yet to tee off in the final round at Champions Golf Club’s Cypress Creek Course. Because of what the USGA called “dangerous weather in the area,” play was halted at 9:10 a.m. CST, with 42 of the 66 players who made the weekend cut on the course. At 12:40 p.m., play was called off for the day.

The course received .73 inches of rain in the past 24 hours, the USGA said Sunday afternoon. After the third round Saturday, many players had been complaining about "mudballs" and the often-unpredictable flight of approach shots.

"We want to ensure course conditions are worthy of crowning a major champion," said John Bodenhamer, the USGA's senior managing director of championships.

The forecast calls for cooler but drier weather Monday, with the high near 50 and mostly sunny skies. Play was scheduled to resume at 8 a.m. CST Monday, the USGA said.

"They told us they wanted the course to play as fair as possible for everyone tomorrow, so I think they made the right decision," said Kaitlyn Papp, a University of Texas senior from Austin who is tied for fifth and the leading amateur. "I know I'm very excited for Tomorrow, I can't wait to play."

But not all players agreed with the decision to suspend play.

"Without the USGA using preferred lies, there was no way to play today," said Germany's Sophia Popov, who won the Women's British Open this year. "They boxed themselves with that decision."

"I don't know why they would suspend today," American Brittany Lincicome said. "It's wet now; it's going to be wet tomorrow. We should be playing right now."

Editor's note: Art Stricklin contributed to this report.

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