Seo on verge of first major win

She leads rainy US Open by one

Hee Kyung Seo had a pair of 68s yesterday, and is lined up to collect the US Open trophy today. Hee Kyung Seo had a pair of 68s yesterday, and is lined up to collect the US Open trophy today. (Mike Ehrmann/ Getty Images)
By Eddie Pells
Associated Press / July 11, 2011

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COLORADO SPRINGS - Hee Kyung Seo has a chance to carve her own special place in history. Not simply as a US Open winner, but as a US Open winner who won it without hitting a single shot on the final day.

In a strange, storm-infested tournament that doesn’t want to end, Seo did just about everything she could to win her first major, except control the weather.

She shot a pair of 3-under-par 68s yesterday to finish at 3-under 281 for a one-shot lead over her South Korean rival, So Yeon Ryu, who had three holes remaining when darkness halted play.

Cristie Kerr was another shot back with two holes left.

Seo will sleep on the lead - though not as comfortably as she could have after missing a 3-foot par putt on No. 17 - and then has a chance to wake up today, come to the course, never touch a club, and walk away with the trophy.

“I can sleep very well, so I don’t worry about that,’’ she said.

But she couldn’t celebrate quite yet.

Rain delayed play for the fourth time in four days - this time for 2 hours 37 minutes - and left 28 players on the course, three of whom are still in range.

There’s Ryu, who shot 69 on her first trip around the course yesterday morning and has at least one decent birdie opportunity - the par-5 17th - awaiting this morning.

There’s Kerr, a two-time major winner who isn’t conceding anything. She was getting ready to do an interview after darkness fell when she saw Seo hugging friends and family.

“The tournament is not decided yet,’’ Kerr said. “I think she’s over there celebrating. We all have a chance. I’m going to go out and swing for the fences and hopefully tie it up.’’

Also with an outside chance is Angela Stanford, who is at even par, three shots behind with four holes to play.

Seo, however, is in the best position because she played better than anyone over 36 grueling holes on the 7,000-yard course, longest in US Women’s Open history. The highlights included four straight birdies on the front nine in her final round that boosted her into the lead - a lead she never lost.

She scrambled through the back nine, saving par with a tricky 5-foot putt on 11, again from an awkward stance above a greenside bunker on No. 13, then again after a drive into the deep rough on 15.

“I just trusted myself and just let it go, and I made lots of birdies,’’ Seo said.

Stanford briefly pulled into a tie with Seo, but missed a 3-foot putt for bogey on No. 11 to start a free fall - 4 over par on holes 11-15.

By the time Seo reached No. 17, she was ahead by two, pointing and staring at a rainbow overhead.

A few moments later, Seo missed a 3-footer for bogey that let Ryu creep to within one shot.