Hee Kyung Seo has a chance to carve her own special place in history. Not simply as a U.S. Open winner -- but as a U.S. Open winner who won it without hitting a single shot on the final day.
In a storm-infested tournament that doesn't want to end, Seo shot a pair of 3-under 68s on Sunday to finish at 3-under 281. She has a one-shot lead over her South Korean rival, So Yeon Ryu, who had three holes left when darkness halted play in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Cristie Kerr was another shot back with two holes left.
Saginaw resident and former TCU All-American Angela Stanford has an outside chance, at even par, three shots behind with four holes to play.
Stanford made back-to-back birdies on Nos. 8 and 9 to tie Seo at 4 under. But Stanford's double bogey on No. 11 -- she missed a 3-foot bogey putt -- began her slide. She also bogeyed 13 and 14.
"I dropped off a little there. But it's good to know exactly what I have to do," Stanford said. "It's been beautiful here every morning, so the good news is that I'm playing a stretch of holes that you can make three birdies.
"The leader is finished at 3 under, so who knows? I'm looking forward to it."
Stanford, 33, grew up in the Fort Worth junior golf program. Her dad signed her up, helped her along the way. She was coached by club professional Amy Fox and TCU coaches Angie Larkin and Mike Wright.
Sunday for Stanford meant 32 holes of play.
”I knew it was going to be tough coming in this week, and the weather and the delays have made it worse,“ said Stanford, a four-time winner on the LPGA Tour and the U.S. Open runner-up in 2003.
Seo has a chance to come to the course today, never touch a club and walk away with the trophy. TV coverage begins at 9 a.m. on ESPN2.
If the tournament ends in a tie, they’ll decide the championship with a three-hole playoff.
On Sunday, Seo played better than anyone over 36 grueling holes of golf — at altitude on a 7,000-yard course, longest in U.S. Women’s Open history. The highlights included four straight birdies on the front nine in her final round that boosted her from 1-under par 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 three-foot putt for bogey on No. 11 to start a free-fall — 4-over par on holes 11 through 15.
By the time Seo reached No. 17, she was ahead by two, pointing and staring at a rainbow overhead. But the moment didn’t last long. First, after being asked by tournament officials to close the gap with the group in front, she started jogging up the fairway — not the traditional gait from someone trying to close out a major. A few moments later, Seo missed a 3-footer for bogey that let Ryu creep to within one shot.
Par for the course on a difficult day where pars were hard to find. There were only 10 completed rounds under par and nobody posted a better score than Seo’s duplicate 68s.
Yani Tseng had no luck. The world No. 1 never figured out the breaks that run away from the mountains on the Broadmoor’s greens and finished 6 over after four exhausting days.
“It’s tough to play on and off,” Tseng said. “Sometimes you just want to try to get rhythm, and it’s really tough.”
Paula Creamer didn’t fare any better. The defending champion was 5 over through the first 14 holes of the last round and will play out the string Monday, starting at 7-over par.
Most of the players arrived at the course around 5 a.m., and when they got there, they were looking at two of Japan’s best players — Mika and Ai Miyazato — in the lead.
Some 15 hours later, and thanks to a pair of third-round 76s from the Miyazatos, Japan’s flag had been replaced by South Korea’s at the top of the leaderboard and the Miyazatos — unrelated but both from Okinawa — were 3 over with five holes left.
Seo and Ryu are part of a half dozen or so South Koreans fondly known as the Seoul Sisters, who are trying to take over where five-time major winner Se Ri Pak left off, adding their names to the long list of successful players from a country that produces plenty.
With an eye trained for fashion and a swing built for winning, Seo has also earned another nickname — “Supermodel of the Fairways.”
If nobody catches her on Monday, the title “U.S. Open Champion” will work fine, too.
“Nobody knows what’s going to happen tomorrow,” she said. “I think there’s not going to be any wind in the morning, so I will just pray and wait.”
PGA Tour: Steve Stricker sank a 25-foot putt from off the 18th green to win the John Deere Classic in Silvis, Ill., for the third straight year. The putt capped a roller coaster afternoon for Stricker, who led by five strokes when he made the turn, fell behind rookie Kyle Stanley by two shots on the back nine, then birdied the final two holes to close with a 2-under 69. He beat Stanley (66) by one stroke.
European Tour: Top-ranked Luke Donald shot a 9-under 63 in Inverness to win his first Scottish Open by four strokes. He was a shot behind three players sharing the lead going into the third and final round but rolled in nine birdies to cruise home ahead of Sweden's Fredrik Andersson Hed, who fired a 62.
Champions Tour: Jeff Sluman shot a 2-under 70 and overcame a pair of bogeys on the back nine, holding on to win the First Tee Open in Pebble Beach, Calif., for the third time. Jay Haas entered Sunday with a two-stroke lead but shot a 75.