SAN FRANCISCO – Fans erupted in applause as 17-year-old Megha Ganne confidently drained her 6-footer for par on the eighth – her last hole in Round 2 – to shoot even-par 71 and remain co-leader at the U.S. Women’s Open at Olympic Club. Ganne walked off the green with a smile and waved to the crowd, enjoying every minute of her success thus far.
“I wish every event I had a gallery watching me because it just makes me play better, I think. And I love being in the spotlight, so it's been really fun,” said Ganne on Friday.
Her mother, Sudha, always remembers her daughter loving the attention. “She has been in plays at school, so she doesn’t mind the spotlight, I think,” Sudha said with a chuckle. Queen of Hearts, from “Alice in Wonderland,” was her biggest role in a school play and according to Sudha, “She [Megha] lived it.”
On Thursday, Ganne, still a high school junior, opened with a 4-under 67, becoming the sixth amateur in U.S. Women’s Open history to shoot 67 or lower. Dew still blanketed the grass on Friday morning when Ganne teed off at 7:11 local time, but her jitters were gone, unphased by the fact that she was co-leading the U.S. Open.
“[I was] way more calm [today] than yesterday. The first four holes of yesterday I was like kind of jittery and a little bit panicked, but on the tee box today I had a bit of a cushion, so I wasn't as stressed out,” Ganne said.
That didn’t mean things started off easy. Ganne was 2 over after her first seven holes on the front nine – which began on the ninth hole, a decision the USGA made for the players out of convenience. But unlike many teenagers who would likely freak out and shoot themselves in the foot, Ganne remained confident in her ability to make birdies (she made six in Round 1).
“I was just kind of looking through the pin sheets and I could tell there are some holes out there that are wide open for you and you'll have a wedge in your hand, and you know what to do from there, so don't worry about your bogeys,” she said, sounding like a longtime vet.
Her pep talk proved to be successful, and she went on to birdie No. 16. After making the turn she birdied No. 1 and No. 7, finishing at even par. An extremely solid day for any player at the U.S. Open and certainly from a 17-year-old.
“She’s so confident,” said her caddie, Michael Finn, who loops at Olympic Club and got in touch with Ganne’s family through connections at Stanford University, where Ganne will be starting in the fall of 2022. “The maturity level is of a 30-year-old. It’s like she’s been out here doing this for years. She doesn’t get down; she’s just having fun.”
Ganne’s parents, Hari and Sudha, emphasize the importance of her daughter taking things day by day. “She learned the hard way, think ahead, meaning that probably wouldn’t be helpful, and we are hoping she can keep it together,” said Sudha.
Sudha is likely referring to her daughter’s performance at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, where she missed the cut, shooting 77-80.
“I think I might have been more nervous to play the ANWA at Augusta than I was to play here. So, I thought it was great preparation for the pressure,” said Ganne at Thursday’s press conference.
The mental preparation certainly paid off because she is thriving in the spotlight and excelling under pressure. More cameras will be on Ganne in Saturday’s third round as she plays alongside some of the best professionals in the world – among the final groups on the day – and continues to make headlines at the U.S. Women’s Open.