U.S. Women’s Open in store for thrilling finish thanks to USGA’s decision to shorten key hole

Kudos to the United States Golf Association (USGA), who decided to shorten the par-4 16th hole for the final round of the U.S. Women’s Open at Lancaster Country Club.

Instead of playing in the neighborhood of 345 yards, which it has for the first three days, the 16th will be more than 100 yards shorter on Sunday. The scorecard will read 232 yards, enticing players to try and reach the green from the tee.

An uphill, dogleg left, the 16th is one of the most picturesque holes that Lancaster has to offer. Beautiful bunkering surrounds this entire hole, making the tee shot nerve-wracking.

The fairway does not offer much wiggle room, prioritizing placement.

U.S. Women’s Open, USGA

The 16th hole at Lancaster Country Club.
Russell Kirk/USGA

But the putting surface leaves no margin for error. It is the smallest on the course and slopes severely from right to left and back to front. So, any player who decides to take this green on from the tee must avoid going right and long. Should they do so, an up-and-down seems unlikely.

Knowing this, the USGA has put Sunday’s pin location in the back right, 19 paces from the front, and eight off the right edge. Anyone who misses left and short of that will have a desirable uphill putt.

U.S. Women’s Open, Lancaster Country Club, USGA

Another view of the 16th at Lancaster from beyond the green.
Russell Kirk/USGA

Nevertheless, in 2015, when In Gee Chun won at Lancaster, the USGA decided to employ a similar tactic. They shortened the 16th to 235 yards for the final round, as it played as the second easiest hole that day.

That tournament produced plenty of drama down the stretch, with Chun birdieing the 16th and 17th holes to win by one. Amy Yang, who finished runner-up that year, eagled the 16th to put pressure on Chun.

Given the tight leaderboard that this edition currently has, a thrilling finish will likely transpire again. Twenty-five-year-old Andrea Lee, two-time major champion Minjee Lee, and Wichanee Meechai of Thailand all sit atop the leaderboard at an impressive 5-under par through 54 holes.

Hinako Shibuno of Japan is 3-under, while Yuka Saso, who won this event at The Olympic Club in 2021, is 2-under through three rounds.

Given the difficulty of this golf course, which has produced a scoring average of 74.25, anything can happen on Sunday. But the USGA has given the contenders a terrific opportunity on the 70th hole of the championship. Whoever takes advantage of it will most likely emerge victorious.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.

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