Liu, Boutier share US Women's Open lead

2019-06-02 08:38
Yu Liu (Getty Images)
Yu Liu (Getty Images)

Miami - China's Liu Yu fired a five-under par 66 on Saturday to seize a share of the third round lead in the US Women's Open alongside good friend Celine Boutier of France.

Boutier, who played the last four holes of a second-round 70 on Saturday morning, returned to post a two-under par 69 in the third round at the Country Club of Charleston in South Carolina.

She and Liu, who forged their friendship when both played on the Duke University golf team that won the 2014 US collegiate title, were tied on seven-under 206, one stroke in front of Americans Lexi Thompson and Jaye Marie Green and 36-hole leader Mamiko Higa of Japan.

Boutier, who won her first LPGA title at the Vic Open in Australia in February, was alone in front on eight-under until her lone bogey of the round at the 16th.

Liu, seeking her first tour title, started the day four adrift but bounced back from a three-putt bogey at the third with three birdies on each side.

That included a rare birdie at the difficult par-three 11th, that helped position her for a bid to become just the second player from the Republic of China to win on the LPGA tour, along with nine-time winner Feng Shanshan. She would be the first golfer from China, male or female, to win a major championship.

"I think this is something that's really out of my expectations because it's only my first ever US Open," Liu said.

"I was just happy to make the cut and being able to play the weekend.

"But now it's something that I didn't really expect,” added Liu, who played in the final group in the last round of the 2019 Founders Cup, where she bogeyed the final hole to drop out of a potential playoff.

"Definitely just trying to embrace the moment, playing with my great friend," she said.

"It's going to be a lot of fun."

Boutier built a two-shot lead with birdies at five, nine and 13 before a three-putt bogey at 14 dropped her into a tie for the lead.

"Honestly, everything was going well. I feel like I was hitting the ball pretty good and pretty straight,” said the 25-year-old, who could become the second US Women's Open champion from France after Catherine Lacoste in 1967.

"Then when I was missing a couple of greens, my short game was there to save me. I feel like all around, my game was pretty solid."

Boutier said she didn't know if her friendship with Liu would make for a more relaxed final pairing.

"I think when I played with her before, she was very focused and kind of in her own bubble," Boutier said. "I enjoy playing with her. But I don't think there's going to be a lot of interaction."

Higa, a 25-year-old playing her first US Women's Open, launched her debut with a sparkling 65 on Thursday, and led by one after a second-round 71.

Three birdies and three bogeys in her second straight even par effort wasn't enough to keep her on top.

Thompson was even for the day after two front-nine birdies and back-to-back bogeys at 10 and 11. But an eagle at 15 followed by a birdie at 16 saw her surge into contention with a 68 for 207.

Green joined Higa and Thompson on six-under with a 68.

Leading third-round scores on Saturday at the US Women's Open golf championship in Charleston, South Carolina (USA unless noted, a-denotes amateur, par-71):

206 - Liu Yu (CHN) 69-71-66, Celine Boutier (FRA) 67-70-69

207 - Lexi Thompson 70-69-68, Jaye Marie Green 71-68-68, Mamiko Higa (JPN) 65-71-71

208 - Lee6 Jeong-eun (KOR) 70-69-69

209 - Gaby Lopez (MEX) 72-70-67, Jessica Korda 69-68-72

210 - Nanna Koerstz Madsen (DEN) 73-71-66, Minjee Lee (AUS) 71-69-70, Ryu So-yeon (KOR) 71-68-71

211 - Ally McDonald 72-72-67, Ai Suzuki (JPN) 73-70-68, Ko Jin-young (KOR) 72-70-69, Park Sung-hyun (KOR) 71-69-71, Kim Sei-young (KOR) 68-71-72, a-Gina Kim 66-72-73

212 - Carlota Ciganda (ESP) 69-74-69, Charley Hull (ENG) 72-70-70, Caroline Masson (GER) 70-71-71, Angel Yin 72-68-72

213 - Maria Fassi (MEX) 72-73-68, Lee Jeong-eun (KOR) 74-71-68, Chella Choi (KOR) 72-72-69, Nelly Korda 69-71-73, Gerina Piller 70-70-73

Read more on:    celine boutier  |  golf


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