CHARLESTON, S.C. – The final group Sunday at the U.S. Women’s Open will have a Duke feel as former Blue Devil teammates and 2014 NCAA Champions Celine Boutier and Yu Liu are at the top of the leaderboard at seven-under-par with 18 holes remaining at the Country Club of Charleston in Charleston, S.C.
Along with Boutier and Liu in the top 12 is rising sophomore Gina Kim, who stands at two-under-par and is the low amateur in the event.
A product of Beijing, China, Liu rebounded from a three-putt bogey on No. 3 with birdies and the fifth and sixth holes. She went on to birdie four of her final 10 holes to shoot the tied for lowest round of the day with a 66. Liu hit 13-of-14 fairways, 13 greens and notched 27 putts Saturday.
“I think this is something that's really out of my expectations because it's only my first ever U.S. Open. I was just happy to make the cut and being able to play the weekends. But now it's something that I didn't really expect,” said Liu. “Definitely just trying to embrace the moment, playing with my great friend, possibly on the last group tomorrow. It's going to be a lot of fun.”
If Liu were to come away with the U.S. Women’s Open title, she would become the first golfer, male or female, from China to win a major championship and just the second Chinese winner on the LPGA Tour.
Boutier, who is from Montrouge, France, birdied at Nos. 5, 9 and 13 to pull two strokes clear of the field, but a bogey at No. 16 dropped her into a tie for the lead. She didn’t miss a fairway in the third round, while hitting 11 greens and rolling 26 putts.
“Honestly, everything was going well. I feel like I was hitting the ball pretty good and pretty straight,” said Boutier. “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.”
In February, Boutier became the fourth Frenchwoman to win an LPGA Tour event when she captured the ISPS Handa Vic Open. Boutier could become the second U.S. Women’s Open winner from France, joining 1967 winner Catherine Lacoste with a win on Sunday.
The Duke teammates are looking to become the second Blue Devil golfer to win the U.S. Women’s Open as Brittany Lang won in 2016.
Both Boutier and Liu feature a one stroke lead ahead of Lexi Thompson, Jaye Marie Green and Mamiko Higa.
Kim, a native of Chapel Hill, N.C., was one-under-par over her first six holes Saturday, but she closed with three bogeys over her final 12 holes to finish with a two-over-par, 73. She is tied for 12th overall and five strokes off the lead.
Blue Devil graduate Lindy Duncan had a one-over-par, 72, Saturday and is tied for 45th heading into Sunday’s action. Lang, a two-time All-America at Duke, is tied for 63rd, after posting a 74 in round three.
Duke has a history of amateur golfers making runs at the U.S. Women’s Open as Lang was runner-up in 2005 and Jenny Chuasiriporn was lost in a playoff in 1999.
The final grouping will kick off action beginning at 2:20 p.m., and fans can follow the action live on Fox from 2-7 p.m.