Imaginative Megha Ganne fires into a share of the US Women’s Open lead

She is only 17, an amateur in high school. But at the Olympic Club on Thursday, Megha Ganne played with great maturity to earn the lead with Mel Reid

Megha Ganne - Kathryn Riley - USGA

04 June 2021: Some rounds of golf tend to be remembered longer than others. Megha Ganne produced one of those in the first round of the 76th US Women’s Open. She worked her way around the challenging Olympic Club golf course with plenty of imagination and belief, securing a brilliant 67 for a share of the lead with Mel Reid. Gurleen Kaur, also an amateur, was also equally impressive, shooting an even 71 to end the first day at T16. Ganne becomes the first amateur since Jane Park in 2006 to hold a share of the lead at the end of the opening round.

Ganne shot six birdies through her and nearly had the lead all to herself, but for a short putt for bogey at the 18th hole to end the day in the company of an equally impressive Reid. The 17-year-old amateur is a junior at Holmdel High School in New Jersey.

She made her US Women’s Open debut two years ago, when she missed the cut in Charleston.

“This morning I had this really strange flashback as I was marking my golf balls,” Ganne said. “I remember when I was in Charleston for my first Women’s Open, I couldn’t even write the circles on my golf balls because my hands were shaking so badly.

“This morning, I was going away at it, so I definitely feel like I’ve matured and been able to handle the pressure better than the first time around. I think the key is playing in these more and more and you get better at it.”

Mel Reid - Darren Carroll - USGA
Mel Reid – Darren Carroll – USGA

Reid started her day with a pair of birdies. She told the media later in the day, that she has been picking the brains of Brooks Koepka for some suggestions about playing major golf. Looks like his tips have been paying off well for the Englishwoman.

“I didn’t think that score was out there, honestly,” Reid said. “We had a game plan and stuck to it. If you’re in trouble, just get it out, make bogey. I think the key here is to not take many risks the first two, three days, and I didn’t do that.”

“I texted Brooks on Tuesday,” Reid said. “We had a long conversation and then we FaceTimed for an hour on Tuesday night. He gave me a few things that he follows by in a major, so obviously appreciate his help. I can’t tell you [what he said]. I’m just trying to be a bit more like Brooks, honestly.”

Reid has received a lot of support ever since she made the brave choice to come out as a gay in 2018. She plans to marry Carly Grenfell in Spring 2022. “I think that I was just comfortable in my life, and I think that the reason I did it, honestly, was more about inclusion,” Reid said. “It’s just that I believe that golf could be a little bit better in inclusion. I’ve seen it firsthand the discrimination from all backgrounds, and I’ve also seen the positive side of including everyone.”.

“I just wanted to be a voice for a lot of people that have struggled with stuff,” Reid said. “I basically wanted to say, ‘I have your back,’ and I believe that anyone from any background, any sexuality, any race should always be welcome to play golf. That’s just kind of what I’m fighting for.”

Gurleen Kaur - Darren Carroll - USGA
Gurleen Kaur – Darren Carroll – USGA

The only blemish on her card was a bogey on the par-4 18th, where the undulating green was playing hard to read for most pros, averaging 4.391 on the day.

Brooke Henderson reached the 18th with a share of the lead and a bogey at the last dropped her into a tie for third with Angel Yin and Meghan Kang. Henderson made six birdies in the opening round.

Shanshan Feng made news last when she withdrew from a consolation match against Ariya Jutanugarn last week. The rest seems to have paid some dividends. Feng made a 69 for T6 with Lexi Thompson and Yuka Saso. There are seven women who made 70 to round off the top ten, a group that included Jennifer Kupcho.

Kaur began with a bogey on the ninth, but made amends very quickly. Birdies at 10, 12 and 15 helped her correct course and despite some more hiccups along the way, she brought it home nicely for an even 71 to make a fine start.