HOUSTON – Amy Olson knew that she’d need to stay mentally disciplined to make it through the final round of the U.S. Women’s Open. Her father-in-law, Lee Olson, a tough West Point grad who had a soft spot for the women in his life, died unexpectedly on Saturday evening. Husband Grant flew home to be with his mother and brother and prepare for the funeral.
That left Olson back in Houston, battling in the bitter cold for her first LPGA title – the crown jewel of women’s golf. At so many points throughout the past two days, Olson said she felt weak and helpless. She leaned into her strong faith to push through.
“I allowed myself to think about what I’m grateful for,” she said tearing up, “and I’ve got a long list.”
After Sunday’s final round was delayed to Monday, a gutsy Olson took the solo lead at Champions Golf Club early on in the back nine as overnight leader Hinako Shibuno began to falter. The 28-year-old North Dakota State legend thought it would be a head-to-head battle with the Japanese star down the stretch.
No one could’ve predicted the late surge from little-known A Lim Kim, who birdied the last three holes to shoot a remarkable 4-under 67 and become the fifth player to win the U.S. Women’s Open in her first attempt. Only four players finished the tournament under par, with Kim topping the field at 3-under 281.
Olson’s chances took a deep hit when she went long on the par-4 16th and failed to get up and down.
“I had 180 to the pin and I needed to carry it about 170, based on my math to carry that bunker,” she said. “My 5-iron, I hit a cut 5-iron on the previous hole and it had flown 152. So I’m sitting there, and there’s no way I can pull that club. I tried to hit a high cut hybrid, which I pulled off beautifully, but it just – I don’t know if it caught a little downwind gust or anything, but obviously it didn’t hold the green and got kind of a tough lie behind the green and didn’t make it up-and-down.”
A final birdie on the 72nd hole moved Olson into a share of second with World No. 1 Jin Young Ko, who birdied two of her last three holes to card a 3-under 68.
As Olson made her way to scoring, Ko stopped her to offer condolences on the family’s loss.
“I cried a little,” said Ko, “and she cried too.”
Jin Young Ko shared some tears with Amy Olson after the round, not about golf. They just received their silver medals. pic.twitter.com/DIVIV6KOss
— Beth Ann Nichols (@GolfweekNichols) December 14, 2020
As Olson made her way around the Cypress Creek course, she could be seen singing on the fairways. The lyrics to Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up,” were a comfort to her, particularly the line – “You raise me up to walk on stormy waters.”
Olson won’t compete in the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship. Now is the time to be with family. Amy married Grant, a linebackers coach at their alma mater North Dakota State, three years ago on a Tuesday because it fit their hectic on-the-road schedules. She said her father-in-law loved to hunt and fish, and that they had a special relationship.
“I really believe the Lord just carried me through,” said Olson of her heavy-hearted day. “It just makes you realize how much bigger life is than golf.”
original article link https://golfweek.usatoday.com/2020/12/14/us-womens-open-amy-olson-father-in-law/