Francella goes it alone


BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Meaghan Francella had not one, but both, of her playing partners withdraw during the course of Friday’s U.S. Women’s Open. Francella completed the last two holes by her lonesome, converting a difficult par putt from the fringe on the 8th hole and then missing a 15-footer for par on the long, par-3 ninth. The bogey dropped her to 1 over on the day and 3 over through 36 holes, just five shots behind the leaders.

“I asked the group in front of me (Anna Grzebien, He Young Choi and Leta Lindley) if I could join them on the [ninth] tee, but they wouldn’t let me,” joked Francella. “It was fine, kind of like a practice round except I couldn’t hit two balls.”

Francella lost her first playing partner, Minea Blomqvist, when she withdrew after 13 holes, citing illness. Blomqvist was apparently distraught after hitting a spectator (the father of one of Francella’s friends; he was okay) in the side of the head with a tee shot on the par-4 16th hole. She continued to play for several more holes before withdrawing. Francella’s other partner, Jee Young Lee, lasted a few more holes, pulling out with a wrist injury after hitting her second shot on the par-4 seventh hole.

“I’ve had one player withdraw on me, but never two,” said Francella, who carded three birdies and four bogeys in her round of 72. “The hardest thing was just pacing myself. I played the last few holes slower than I normally would because I didn’t want to hurry up and then have to wait on the next tee box.”

Blomqvist was 5 over par on her round and 13 over for the tournament when she withdrew, while Young Lee was 6 over and 12 over, respectively. Blomqvist’s and Young Lee’s withdrawals brought the total to nine WDs for the tournament.

“I’d have to be dying or have a limb hanging off to withdraw,” said Francella. “There’s a lot of people sitting at home who would like to be playing in this event. I know two, Natalie Gulbis and Michelle Wie, who would die to be here. It’s not fair.”