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NCAA individual champion leads amateur charge at U.S. Women's Open

NCAA individual champion leads amateur charge at U.S. Women's Open

Adela Cernousek’s dream run continued Thursday at the U.S. Women’s Open.

The rising senior at Texas A&M, who two weeks ago captured the NCAA individual title for her first college victory, kept rolling in the biggest event in women’s golf.

With her college coach on the bag, Cernousek carded a 1-under 69 to take a share of the early lead at Lancaster Country Club. She was one of just three players who broke par in the early wave.

“I don’t think I have any expectations,” Cernousek said after her first career major round. “I don’t think I have anything to lose, so I just tried to enjoy everything with [coach Gerrod Chadwell] on the bag and just live the experience to the fullest.”

Cernousek, now ranked 15th in the world, was already exempt through qualifying when she won NCAAs earlier this month at La Costa. (She earned medalist honors in her qualifier on May 14.) The Frenchwoman is coming off an A&M season in which she recorded a school-record 69.94 scoring average, posted eight top-6 finishes and became the first player in program history to capture the individual NCAA title.

Cernousek acquitted herself well against the pros, too. When she finished her round Thursday, she was ranked inside the top 10 both in strokes gained: off the tee and on the greens.

She wasn't the only player with an (a) next to her name near the top of the leaderboard, either.

Asterisk Talley offset a triple bogey on the par-5 seventh and a bogey at the par-3 17th with four birdies for an even-par 70. The 15-year-old teamed to win the USGA's Four-Ball championship two weeks ago.

While she did have a big number on her card Thursday, she avoided anything disastrous, which was better than what many could say, including world No. 1 Nelly Korda, who made a 10 on her third hole, the par-3 12th.

"So, actually, funny story. I watched [Korda on] 10 and 11, which was like early in the morning, I guess. Then I went to go get ready for my round, and then I got in the car, and when Nelly was off 11, she was 1 over, I think, and when I got in the car I was like, Oh, did Nelly get back to even par? What happened?" Talley said.

The answer left her stunned.

"I was like, I don't really know how to respond. And then under her scorecard it had the dashes and then you could watch the hole when she got the 10. Then I watched it, and it kind of got me scared for that hole," she said.
Tally made a par at No. 12, for the record.

So, too, did the reigning U.S. Women's Amateur champion. In fact, Megan Schofill was leading the championship at 2 under par before a double bogey at the par-4 16th. The Auburn Tiger, fresh off a match-play appearance at the national championships, also shot 70.

"Started out playing really well, hitting a lot of fairways and greens, which is super key here, and made a few nice short putts to kind of keep the momentum in my favor," Schofill said.

"It was definitely a grind towards the end. Finished on 16, 17 and 18, which the back nine is really challenging."

USC's Catherine Park started her day on the back nine and was 2 under through seven holes. She bogeyed No. 17 and then Nos. 1 and 2, after making the turn. But Park, the Pac-12 individual champion who had coach Justin Silverstein on the bag, made six pars and one birdie to close for, yet another, even-par 70.

"It's the U.S. Open, so it's going to play hard, greens are going to be fast," Park said. "Always a great experience to come out and play because it's not something you can get in college golf or anything like that."

It’s already been a memorable week for Cernousek, who played early-week practice rounds with Rose Zhang, Angel Yin and fellow countrywoman Celine Boutier. Though she didn’t connect with her this week, Cernousek also frequently receives advice from Chadwell’s wife, former world No. 1 Stacy Lewis.

“I can’t even believe I’m playing here this week, actually,” Cernousek said. “It’s one of the most important tournaments out there for me. It’s super fun to be able to be here.”