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St. Thomas Amateur Made The Cut At The U.S. Women’s Open

SAN FRANCISCO — This was not the kind of start Alexandra Swayne envisioned for her first U.S. Women’s Open.

The St. Thomas resident struggled on the notoriously tough Lake Course at the Olympic Club in Thursday’s opening round, finishing with a 6-over-par 77 to sit far down the leaderboard.

Teeing off on the ninth hole, Swayne — a rising senior on Clemson’s women’s golf team — only had one birdie, coming on the par-4, 395-yard No. 4, 14 holes into her round.

However, by the time Swayne made that birdie, she had already bogeyed seven holes – No. 9 to start off, then back-to-backs on Nos. 13-14 and Nos. 16-17, and a third set of back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 2-3.

That left Swayne mired in a pack of 10 players tied for 110th in the field, and 10 strokes behind co-leaders Megha Ganne, a high school junior, and English pro Mel Reid.

Ganne shot a 4-under 67 to become the first amateur in 15 years to have a share of the lead after any round at the U.S. Women’s Open.

The 17-year-old from New Jersey made back-to-back birdies on the back nine to take sole possession of the lead before making bogey on the 18th hole to end the day in a tie with Reid.

Ganne became the first amateur to lead after a round at the women’s Open since Jane Park did it after one round at Newport Country Club in 2006.

“I think just my ability to play smart and not take any unnecessary risks, and I didn’t panic when I got into the rough a couple of times out there,” Ganne said of the key to her success. “Because there are definitely holes I wasn’t keeping in the fairway, and it’s easy to panic out there, and I didn’t do that.”

Ganne needed a playoff last month to qualify for her second career U.S. Open but felt much more comfortable once she got here than she did two years ago when she missed the cut.

“I think the first time is nerve-racking for anybody and meeting your idols and being on the stage for the first time,” she said. “But the second time around, even the practice rounds, I wasn’t as nervous. I felt like I could come here and just play my game instead of soaking that all in.”

She did just that up the road from Stanford where she plans to go to college after graduating high school next year. She birdied three of the first eight holes and made three more on the back nine to overcome a pair of bogeys.

She made one of her few mistakes on 18 when she hit her approach shot into a greenside bunker.

The notoriously tough Lake Course played a little easier than usual after the rough was trimmed a bit before the round. Fifteen players shot under par with Canada’s Brooke Henderson, and Americans Angel Yin and Megan Khang one shot back. Henderson three-putted from less than 20 feet on the 18th hole to fall out of a share of the lead.

Lexi Thompson, Yuka Saso and Shanshan Feng were two shots back.

Other notable players include defending champion A Lim Kim of South Korea, who struggled at 6 over, and 2014 champion Michelle Wie West, who shot 74.

This marked the first time the women came to the Lake Course overlooking the Pacific Ocean for a major. But this venue has a rich history for the men, hosting five U.S. Opens and three U.S. Amateurs among other events.

The course that played at 6,361 yards Thursday has traditionally played as one of the tougher ones despite having no water hazards and only one fairway bunker. Only four men broke par at the five U.S. Opens here.

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