Trish Johnson’s Sizzling 67 Grabs Lead at 5th U.S. Senior Women’s Open

By Ron Sirak

| Aug 26, 2023 | Portland, Ore.

Trish Johnson’s Sizzling 67 Grabs Lead at 5th U.S. Senior Women’s Open

What Happened

What looked like it was going to be a table for one at the 5th U.S. Senior Women’s Open turned into an open party. Catriona Matthew took a three-stroke lead into Saturday’s third round at Waverley Country Club but by days end Trish Johnson sat atop a leaderboard that was suddenly crowded as a slew of players went low in an exciting third round.

After yielding only one round in the 60s over the first 36 holes – a 69 by Matthew on Thursday – Waverley surrendered a 67 by Johnson, 68 by Leta Lindley and 69s by Moira Dunn-Bohls, Patricia Meunier-Lebouc and Silvia Cavalleri as what promises to be a dynamic championship weekend began.

Sunday’s final round will begin with Johnson at 212 followed by Matthew (213), Lindley and Dunn-Bohls (214), Nicole Jeray (215), Tammie Green (216), Annika Sorenstam (217) with Meunier-Lebouc and Charlotta Sorenstam at 218 as nine players are within six strokes of the lead.

“Pretty much everything, really,” Johnson said when asked what she did well on Saturday. “Drove the ball really well, which put me in good positions. If I hit my driver well, my irons are nearly always fairly decent, but the driver is the club that was really good today.”

Johnson has had a second- and third-place finish in the U.S. Senior Women’s Open and now has a chance to coral a dream she is chasing for the fifth time.

“I think I almost wish Beany [Matthew] was still leading, in all honesty,” Johnson said. “It would be a bit less to think about because you always think if you're in the lead going into the last round it's yours to lose, but it really isn't. There's loads of people. I don't know how Moira [Dunn-Bohls] finished, but I know she's incredibly capable. There's lots of people that can shoot good numbers. Annika, crikey, best player ever.”

Johnson has only one gear when she plays – all out – and that’s her plan of attack for the final round.

“I'm just enjoying playing really good golf, and if I do that again tomorrow, then I've got a chance, and if someone beats me, good on them,” she said. “I'm not going to do anything different. Yes, aggressively, absolutely, because that's the only way I know how to play is just hit it as hard as I can, hope it goes straight.”

For Matthew, the disappointment of following two under-par rounds – a 69 and 71 – with a 1-over-par 73 was offset by the fact she felt the quality of her play has been the same for all three rounds.

“Obviously right now slightly disappointed with my round today,” Matthew said. “I felt like I played actually pretty well but just didn't hole any putts today. Go and work on my putting a little bit, and looking at it tonight, I'm in great position going into tomorrow. Yeah, it's all to play for.”

The 68 by Lindley was nearly perfect. Her only bogey came on a three-putt on No. 15.

“I've been playing well all week and really striking the ball well, even when I shot 2-over yesterday, I was really disappointed because I felt I played great,” Lindley said. “I think I hit 16 greens and shot 2-over. The putts just didn't fall. I hit the ball well today again, and I just made more putts.”

Lindley, who was second to Jill McGill in last year’s U.S. Senior Women’s Open, finds herself in a familiar positioned. Asked what she learned from her runner-up finish last year she said: “That I can do it.”

The 69 by Dunn-Bohls came despite a double bogey on the 131-yard, par-3 11th hole. But her seven birdies erased any mistakes she made.

“I hit my irons well, and I was pretty confident on my putting,” Dunn-Bohls said. “I've been working on the putting pretty hard, and it kind of paid off today. Even the comebackers I had, I was really steady over them.”

The leaderboard going into Sunday’s final round is one of the most dynamic in the history of the U.S. Senior Women’s Open with a ton of players in the hunt. And Waverley has proven to be a course that rewards good shots and punishes wayward one. Which is as it should be. That should make for a great finish.

Notable

• Defending champion Jill McGill fell 10 strokes back with a 74 and 2019 champion Helen Alfredsson slipped to 11 back with a 77.

• Waverley closes with back-to-back par-5 holes. Annika Sorenstam has yet to birdie either of them through three rounds.

Quotable

“You have to play conservatively aggressive, really be determined about where you're hitting it but not take aggressive lines.”  – Moira Dunn-Bohls about Waverley Country Club.

One clutch shot into 5, and I had a 3-foot eagle putt, and I missed it, and then I hit a really poor iron shot into the next hole, short-sided myself in the bunker, impossible shot, and I holed it. I was angry, I was annoyed. Suddenly I was almost euphoric. That made a massive difference to get me back on track sort of thing.” -- Trish Johnson

“Well, I suppose if you only had a one-shot lead -- I would rather have a five-shot lead than five behind.” – Catriona Matthew asked if she feels more comfortable chasing Johnson than leading.

Ron Sirak is a Massachusetts-based freelance writer whose work has previously appeared on USGA websites.