SOUTHERN PINES, N.C. – Describing her round as “a little shaky,” Day 1 leader Mina Harigae followed her opening 64 with a 2-under 69 on Friday to head into the weekend tied with Minjee Lee at the top of the leaderboard.
“A little more stressful today for sure, and things got a little shaky there, but I was really happy with the way I hung in there and made some good birdies coming in,” she said.
Harigae, 32, attributes her success to maturity and experience. This is her 47th major start and her 27th made cut. She's hoping her first top-10 in a major will also be her first LPGA Tour win.
“Every time that I'm doing well in a tournament, especially in a major championship, I just draw on from each experience,” she said. “Today, even when things weren't going great, I was really able to keep myself calm and just try to be really level-headed out there.”
Full-field scores from the U.S. Women’s Open
Ten years ago, Harigae wouldn’t have said the same thing. “If I hit a bad shot or I make a bogey, even though I'm still doing just fine, I probably wouldn't have handled it very well,” she added. “I probably would have gotten really upset or it probably would have affected me the next one to even three holes. I think I'm doing a lot better with that.”
Harigae, who was on last year's U.S. Solheim Cup team, began her round on the par-4 ninth, making the turn at 1 under and then battled on the back nine with two bogeys and three birdies.
“I think I'm just a completely different person and golfer,” she said. “I'm hitting a lot more greens now. I've always generally been a pretty good driver of the golf ball, but it's my irons that have really taken care of where I'm going with my game. I think just as a person, I'm much more mature. It took me a little bit, but I feel like I'm a lot more mature than I was in my 20s.”
Some of the people around Harigae that she credits for her maturity are her fiancé, Travis Kreiter; her swing coach, Jeff Fisher; and her mental coach, Dawn Woodard.
“Travis Kreiter is my caddie and fiancé. He has been caddying for me over four years now. He has a great killer-athlete mentality. He kind of brought me back to how I was in my amateur golf days,” said Harigae, who turned professional in 2009. “I went back to my old swing coach that knows me best. Just surrounding myself with people that are really good for me.”
The only other time Harigae has led a tournament was last year at the AIG Women’s Open at Carnoustie, following opening rounds of 70-67. “I was tied for the lead going into Saturday,” said Harigae, who finished the tournament T-13 after 76-69 weekend.
“Since then, I have the better tools to navigate these new experiences. I think just trying to be calm, just go about my day.”