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N.J. teen makes run at U.S. Women’s Open history

Megha Ganne in 1st round of 2021 U.S. Women's Open
Megha Ganne likes what she sees in a 1st-round 67 to share the lead in the U.S. Women’s Open on Thursday at Olympic Club in San Francisco.

17-year-old Megha Ganne shoots 4-under 67 to share 1st-round lead with England’s Mel Reid at San Francisco's Olympic Club

No amateur golfer has won the U.S. Women’s Open in 54 years, but New Jersey teen Megha Ganne took a big first step toward history Thursday.

Ganne, 17, a rising senior at Holmdel (N.J.) High School, shot 4-under 67 at Olympic Club’s Lake Course in San Francisco to grab a share of the first-round lead with England’s Mel Reid.

“I just wanted to play my best and have fun,” a smiling Ganne said from behind the 18th green after her round. “I really thought this course suited my game, and I kept telling myself that.”

Americans Megan Khang and Angel Yin, who finished eagle-birdie, were tied for third at 3-under 68 with Canada’s Brooke Henderson, who three-putted the 18th hole to fall out of the lead. American Lexi Thompson shared sixth place with China’s Shanshan Feng and the Philippines’ Yuka Saso at 69. Only 15 of the 156 players broke par.

(For first-round scores, click here. For second-round tee times, click here.)

Ganne birdied three of her first eight holes and made the turn in 3-under 32. She followed a bogey at the par-4 11th hole with a bounce-back birdie at the par-4 12th and added birdies at Nos. 15 and 16 to take the solo lead at 5 under. However, Ganne found a greenside bunker at the par-4 18th, left her sand shot in the rough between the bunker and the green and then had to get up and down to save bogey for a share of the lead.

“I didn't panic when I got into the rough a couple of times out there,” Ganne said, “because there are definitely holes I wasn't keeping in the fairway. It's easy to panic out there, and I didn't do that.”

Only one amateur has won the USWO: France’s Catherine Lacoste, in 1967 at The Homestead in Hot Springs, Va.

Ganne committed to attend nearby Stanford, beginning in 2022. She is one of 31 amateurs in the USWO field and the only one to break par.

In her only previous USWO, in 2019 at the Country Club of Charleston in South Carolina, Ganne missed the cut. She made it to the semifinals of the 2019 U.S. Women’s Amateur and has qualified for two U.S. Girls’ Juniors and a U.S. Women’s Amateur Four-Ball. Ganne is a product of The First Tee of Metropolitan New York and a four-time qualifier for the Drive, Chip and Putt national finals at Augusta National.

Reid, 33, is looking to win her first major championship. She broke through in the fall to win her first title on the LPGA, at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.

Jin Young Ko, the top-ranked player in the world, shot 1-under 70. The Korda sisters, Jessica and Nelly, struggled despite having been paired together. Jessica shot 72, and Nelly shot 78. American Michelle Wie West, the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open champion who was competing in her first major championship in two years, shot 74. She was paired with past champions Cristie Kerr (73) and Paula Creamer (75). Defending champion A Lim Kim of South Korea signed for a 79.

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