High-school amateur in contention at Open

Teenage sensation Megha Ganne, 17, waves after making a putt at the US Women's Open.

Teenage sensation Megha Ganne, 17, waves after making a putt at the US Women's Open. Photo: AP

The calculus homework awaiting Megha Ganne might have to wait a couple more days as the 17-year-old amateur has more pressing business at the US Women’s Open.

Ganne followed up a strong opening round by shooting an even-par 71 in at the Olympic Club on Friday and heads into the weekend two shots off the pace set by fellow teenager Yuka Saso.

The high school junior from New Jersey held the lead after the morning rounds only to watch the 19-year-old Saso from the Philippines pass her with birdies on two of the last four holes.

Ganne hopes that will buy her some extra time on that calculus homework.

“I don’t know how I’m going to manage to fit that into my schedule in the next few days,” she said. “Hopefully, my teacher gives me a little bit more time to do that. It’s hard to balance both.”

Saso followed up a 69 on Thursday by shooting 67 in the second round thanks in part to an impressive par save after a tee shot into the deep rough on her third-to-last hole of the day.

“If I go in the rough, my mindset is just to go for the fairway,” Saso said. “I mean, it’s really long and sticky. It’s really hard to get on from it. But yeah, I’m glad that I’m a little bit good out of it.”

Jeongeun Lee6, the 2019 champion from South Korea, birdied three of her final four holes to shoot 67 and finish one shot behind Saso at the Lake Course.

American Megan Khang birdied the par-5 17th to get into a tie for third with Ganne at four under.

Ganne, who needed a playoff just to qualify for her second US Women’s Open, got off to a bit of a slow start with her early morning tee time that brought San Francisco fog that made the course play even longer than usual.

She started on the ninth hole and bogeyed Nos. 12 and 15 before getting on track with a nearly 20-foot birdie on the par-5 16th.

After a second bogey at 18, she closed strong by making a long birdie on No.1 and then another birdie on the par-4 seventh hole that she punctuated with a fist pump.

She then spent her time waiting to hit her tee shot on her final hole repeatedly bouncing a ball on her club, showing few signs of nerves in front of a crowd much bigger than
her usual ones as an amateur.

“That was the biggest gallery we’ve seen and she was unfazed by it,” said her father Hari Ganne.

Ganne’s mother, Sudha, said her daughter has always enjoyed being on centre stage ever since playing the role of the Queen of Hearts in an “Alice in Wonderland” play as a young child.

“I love it so much,” Megha Ganne said. “I wish every event I had a gallery watching me because it just makes me play better, I think. And I love being in the spotlight, so it’s been really fun.”

Minjee Lee is the best of the Australians at four over, after shooting another 73 to be 10 off the pace while Hannah Green just made the cut on six over after dropping three shots in her last three holes in a round of 75.


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