SAN FRANCISCO – Celebrity sightings are common in California. But when the U.S. Women’s Open is staged in the Golden State, the stars are usually inside the ropes, not outside.
Saturday, standing along the rope line at the first tee at The Olympic Club was actress Kathryn Newton. Known for her roles in "Big Little Lies" on HBO and "Gary Unmarried" on CBS, Newton is an avid golfer. She played for her team at Notre Dame High School in Southern California and starred in the USGA’s promotional movie-trailer-style commercial for the U.S. Women’s Open, in which she drove a golf cart through the desert.
Newton wanted to watch her childhood friend, Megan Khang, tee off in Round 3 at Olympic. She stood nervously outside the ropes, careful not to bother her friend who was contending in a major championship. Instead, she waited until Khang spotted her behind the tee box. The two shared a hug, a few laughs and Newton shared some positive words with her before she teed off.
“It’s really cool when you see her out there, to see someone when you were so little to really achieve her dreams,” Newton told GolfChannel.com. “It's really inspiring and I’m proud of her.”
Newton says she can first remember meeting Khang during a junior event in Florida. She recalls being very selective with what junior events she would play, to make sure that Khang would be there, too. They’d always make sure to stay in the same hotel and swim in the hotel pool after the round.
“I’m not going to say I beat her because she’s going to kick my butt,” Newton said laughing about that early meeting in Florida. “She really showed me what it was like to be great. She was always a great player and I think when you play with someone who is great, it makes you see that it's possible.”
While Newton has watched Khang’s rising career, Khang has followed her friend’s rise as well. Khang says she reconnected with Newton during the LPGA Tour’s stop in Los Angeles in April for the Hugel Air Premia LA Open, but due to social distancing restrictions, the pair wasn't able to get together.
“It was awesome to see her supporting women's golf and being out here,” Khang said Saturday.
Newton will also be on-site at the U.S. Women’s Open for the final round and plans to play The Olympic Club on Monday with the same hole locations the women face on Sunday.
“Golf for me has really changed my life. I love the game,” said Newton, who plays an average of three days a week. “I play alone all the time and I make a lot of friends out here. And I just hope that if someone sees me playing they think they can do it, too.”