COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – With an eye trained for fashion and a swing built for winning, South Korean Hee Kyung Seo is known back home as the “Supermodel of the Fairways.”
If she hangs onto the lead and closes out this storm-filled U.S. Women’s Open, Seo might want to design a raincoat to commemorate the victory.
Lasering in on an electrified Broadmoor course that hardly anyone else could tame Sunday, Seo made four straight birdies to close out the front 9 of her fourth round at 5-under 31. She gave a stroke back on No. 10 and teed off down the fairway on 11 when the most familiar sound of the entire tournament - the weather warning siren - sounded again and cleared the players off the course.
Seo stood at 4-under par with eight holes left in what was supposed to be a 36-hole Sunday. She led Angela Stanford by one and another South Korean, So Yeon Ryu, by two, with Cristie Kerr another shot back.
Seo, who has designed a few of her outfits in the past, is part of a half dozen or so South Koreans fondly known as the Seoul Sisters, who are trying to take over where five-time major winner Se Ri Pak left off, adding their names to the long list of successful players from a country that produces plenty.
Sparked by a win last season at La Costa, where she got in on a sponsor’s exemption, Seo is on the LPGA full time this season. She won a U.S. Open qualifier in New Jersey earlier this summer and is now in position to win her first major.
Seo, who turned 25 on Friday, put herself in position by shooting a 3-under 68 early Sunday, matching the best score of a third round that featured only seven scores under par. Kerr, Stanford and Ryu emerged from the round as the only players in the red for the tournament—at 1 under—as the 7,000-yard course, the long march in high altitude and the typically punishing U.S. Open setup took its toll.
Seo handled it best. After a quick break for lunch, she made a birdie on the par-4 second hole, measuring only 258 yards. After three straight pars, she went on the biggest birdie binge of the tournament, finishing off her four in a row with an approach on the par-5 ninth to 3 feet and an easy putt - one of the very few to be found on the tricky Broadmoor greens.
Stanford is playing five groups behind Seo thanks to the USGA’s decision not to regroup the threesomes based on their positions after the third round. The leaders coming into the day were Mika Miyazato at 5 under and Ai Miyazato at 4 under. Each shot 76 in the third round. Mika was at even and Ai at 1 over when the rain came. They have 13 holes left to play.