SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The calculus homework awaiting Megha Ganne might have to wait a couple more days to get done. The 17-year-old amateur has more pressing business this weekend at the U.S. Women’s Open.
Ganne followed up a strong opening round by shooting an even-par 71 in the second round at the Olympic Club on Friday and was tied for the clubhouse lead with Megan Khang after the morning groups at 4-under 138.
The high school junior from New Jersey is aiming to become the first amateur to hold at least a share of the 36-hole lead at the U.S. Women’s Open since Carol Semple Thompson in 1978. She hopes that will buy her some extra time on that calculus homework and a shoutout on Twitter from New Jersey governor Phil Murphy could help her cause.
“I don’t know how I’m going to manage to fit that into my schedule in the next few days,” she said. “Hopefully, my teacher gives me a little bit more time to do that. It’s hard to balance both.”
Khang moved into a tie with Ganne by birdieing the par-5 17th. England’s Mel Reid shared the first-round lead with Ganne with a 67 and teed off in the afternoon.
“Each day is more exciting, more nerve-racking,” Khang said. “I like to look at it as embracing it because you can’t really shy away from it. You know it’s going to happen. It’s inevitable. I love these kind of feelings, and I definitely for sure know the course is going to give us its best and we’re going to have to give our best.”
Shanshan Feng of China was one back at 3 under after a 70, with Lexi Thompson and Inbee Park at 2 under at the Lake Course. Park shot a 69 for her record 25th career round under par at a U.S. Women’s Open, breaking a tie with Beth Daniel and Betsy King.
Ganne, who needed a playoff just to qualify for her second U.S. Women’s Open, got off to a bit of a slow start with her early morning tee time that brought San Francisco fog that made the course play even longer than usual. She started on the ninth hole and bogeyed Nos. 12 and 15 before getting on track with a nearly 20-foot birdie on the par-5 16th.
After a second bogey at 18, she closed strong by making a long birdie on No. 1 and then another birdie on the par-4 seventh hole that she punctuated with a fist pump. She then spent her time waiting to hit her tee shot on her final hole repeatedly bouncing a ball on her club, showing few signs of nerves in front of a crowd much bigger than her usual ones as an amateur.
“That was the biggest gallery we’ve seen and she was unfazed by it,” said her father, Hari Ganne.
Ganne’s mother, Sudha, said her daughter has always enjoyed being on center stage ever since playing the role of the Queen of Hearts in an “Alice in Wonderland” play as a young child.
“I love it so much,” Megha Ganne said. “I wish every event I had a gallery watching me because it just makes me play better, I think. And I love being in the spotlight, so it’s been really fun.”
Ganne’s tee shot on her final hole went past the green but she managed to save par with a tricky 10-foot putt.
“It was a challenging putt,” she said. “I just wanted to get it started on line. On the hole before that I made a birdie, so I wasn’t too worried if I made a bogey on the last one, but I’m glad it fell.”
Defending champion A Lim Kim of South Korea followed up an opening 79 by shooting 70 on Friday and is in danger of missing the cut. Michelle Wie West, the 2014 champion, shot an 80 to go to 12 over and won’t play on the weekend.
American Sarah Burnham shot a 66 for the best round of the week and was even par.
The U.S. Women’s Open continues on Saturday (NBC 2pm ET) and Sunday (NBC 3pm ET).
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