Georgia junior Jo Hua Hung shot 2-under 142 to finish third overall and, more importantly, earn a spot in the field for the 2021 U.S. Women’s Open on Wednesday. Hung birdied three of her last six holes to grab the third in final spot allotted at the Open qualifier contested over three days at Druid Hills Golf Club.
It was a banner day for the Bulldogs. In addition, teammate Jenny Bae shot even-par 144 to earn the first alternate slot for the Open from Druid Hills.
This year’s U.S. Women’s Open will be contested on June 3-6 at the Olympic Club on San Francisco, Calif.
Hung extends an impressive streak of Bulldogs earning U.S. Open bids while in Athens to six years. All told, six golfers have earned eight spots in the last six Opens, including Rinko Mitsunaga and Bailey Tardy in 2016, Tardy in 2017, Céleste Dao and Jillian Hollis in 2018, Dao in 2019, Caterina Don in 2020 and Hung in 2021.
The Druid Hills qualifier began on Monday morning but was quickly plagued by prolonged weather delays. Hung completed just two holes on Monday before play was suspended and torrential rains flooded the course. On Tuesday, play didn’t begin until the afternoon, and she finished No. 6 before the competition was halted again.
“Actually, we didn’t do much,” Hung joked. “I talked to Jenny and Caroline (Craig), and we walked around the clubhouse and the locker room because the facility was very nice. We were looking for some place with table tennis or a game we could play, but we couldn’t find anything.”
Hung returned on Wednesday knowing she would have a 30-hole day.
“To get ready, I did what I normally do to prepare for 18 holes,” Hung said. “I was on the range and spent some on the putting green, but it was not much different than usual. Last semester and this semester we played 36 holes at tournaments a couple times so I do think that helped me prepare for the kind of mindset I need to have to perform today.”
Hung began the day 2-over through those six holes but birdied No. 8 and No. 9 to turn at even. A trio of bogeys at No. 10, No. 11 and No. 12 pushed her to 3-over before she rallied with birdies at No. 13, No. 14 and No. 18 to complete the first round at even par.
“After 18 holes I checked live scoring to see where I was, and I think the top five players were all shooting under par,” Hung said. “That motivated me. I told myself that during the second 18 holes I had to be aggressive. I knew I had to get as many birdies as I could because if I shot par I probably had no chance (to qualify).”
Hung teed off from No. 10 for the second round and played the first nine holes at even par by mixing seven pars with a birdie at No. 14 with a bogey at No. 15. Following a bogey at No. 1, Hung was 1-over through 28 holes, but she rallied to birdie No. 4, No. 5 and No. 7 to surge up the leaderboard late in the day.
“When I checked live scoring after the second 18 holes I saw I was in the third spot and I wanted to cry,” Hung said. “I knew I had to control my emotions because I still might have to play in a playoff. When I knew I was going to finish third I was really, really excited.”
The accomplishment became even more meaningful because Hung will have Lorena Tseng, one of her best friends, alongside for her U.S. Open experience.
“I’m also excited because one of my best friends from home also qualified,” Hung said. “She plays at Tulsa. For us to be able to both make it and get to play in the U.S. Open together is like a dream come true.”
Tseng won a qualifier at the Golf Club of Houston in Humble, Texas on Monday.
Four more Bulldogs participated in Open qualifiers this week. Also at Druid Hills, sophomore Caroline Craig tied for 15th at 148, and incoming freshman LoraLie Cowart tied for 34th at 155. On Wednesday, sophomore Céleste Dao carded shot 143 at Dedham Country and Polo Club near Boston and finished tied for seventh – and as the second lowest amateur – in the field. On Monday, freshman Isabella Holpfer shot 155 at Somerset Country Club in Mendota Heights, Minn., outside Minneapolis and tied for 16th overall.
Hung will return to action next week when the Bulldogs compete in the NCAA Columbus Regional. Georgia is the No. 5 seed among 18 teams competing at the OSU Scarlet Course on Monday-Wednesday. The top six teams from the Regional will advance to the NCAA Championships on May 21-26 in Scottsdale, Ariz.