Swedish amateur Linn Grant fired rounds of 67 and 70 for a total of 137, seven-under-par and was the only player to finish under par after the 36-hole US Women’s Open Sectional Qualifier – Europe, at Buckinghamshire Golf Club on Monday.
The 18-year-old from Helsingborg, who rushed home to take a mathematics exam at 8am on Tuesday morning, will head to Shoal Creek Golf Club in Alabama to play in her first Major championship on May 31-June 3, 2018.
She will be joined by Catriona Matthew, Mel Reid and Sarah Schober, while Sophie Walker, who was pipped by Schober at the second play-off hole, will be the first alternate.
Grant, a member of the 2017 European PING Junior Solheim Cup Team, took a two-stroke lead after posting a bogey-free 67 in fine and blustery conditions and she carried her form into the afternoon with a two-under 70, despite making a double bogey on the par-3 third hole.
“This course is so long compared to the ones I usually play, so that’s the biggest difference,” said the 2017 Ladies British Open Amateur Stroke Play Champion, who had her father John as her caddie.
Looking ahead to the $5,000,000 US Women’s Open conducted by the USGA, she said: “My goal is always to win, but that would be crazy! Even though it’s a big event and a new thing, I’ll do my best and it will be good to test my game against the others.”
The last two women’s Majors have been won by Swedish players, with Anna Nordqvist claiming the Evian Championship and Pernilla Lindberg lifting the trophy at the ANA Inspiration. Another Swede, Jenny Haglund, took the recent Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco.
Explaining the recent Swedish successes, Grant added: “I think that it spreads. If you see someone you know or met win an international tournament or a Major, it makes you feel that you can do the same and I think that is what happened, also with the amateur group. Julia (Engström) won the British Amateur in ’16, which really was the start for our group and it showed that if you can do it we can do it as well. As a team, we won a lot of tournaments last year and as fast as we showed up, all the other coaches wanted us to go home, because they didn’t want us to win.”
The 2019 Solheim Cup captain Catriona Matthew earned the second spot after rounds of 69 and 75 for a total of level par.
She said: “I actually played really well, but I had a pathetic last three holes, especially 17 and 16, but all you have to do is get into that top four. It doesn’t matter if you are first or fourth. I’m there, which is good. Shoal Creek will be a new experience.”
Reid rallied back from an opening 75 to card a 71 in the afternoon for a total of two-over and she said: “It was a day of two halves. I wasn’t 100 per cent happy this morning. I was pretty disappointed. This afternoon I had to get off to a fast start.
“It’s a tough golf course now, as they have made some changes and it’s extremely difficult and the wind exaggerated that. I tried to get back to level and made a great birdie on 16, disappointed to make bogey on 17 but holed a great eight-footer on the last.
“Hopefully this is the turning point in my season. I made a few changes the last couple of weeks, so it’s relief more than anything. I gave myself a lot to do after this morning. I had five three-putts or something stupid. I played a lot more solid this afternoon so I’m glad to get the job done.”
Schober almost blew her chances when she finished bogey, double bogey to tie for fourth place with Heather Macrae, Christine Wolf, Rachael Goodall and Sophie Walker. However, she eventually defeated Walker with a par on the second play-off hole.
The 2016 LET Access Series order of merit winner, from Austria, said afterwards: “I’m even happier now that I did it because I wasn’t expecting to be in a play-off, especially after 18, but I’m super happy to be in my first Major.”
The 73rd U.S. Women’s Open will mark the first staging of the event at Shoal Creek Golf Club and those who qualified will be playing for the highest purse in women’s golf on the grandest stage internationally.