U.S. Open Bound: Mehaffey and Grant Ready for the National Stage
HOUSTON – Two current members of the Sun Devil Women's Golf program will compete at the 2020 U.S. Women's Open, taking place Dec. 10-13 at Champions Golf Club in Houston.
Olivia Mehaffey and Linn Grant will represent Arizona State at the upcoming LPGA Major Championship, earning exemptions based on their World Amateur Golf Ranking (WAGR) position as of Nov. 4. They will join the 156-player field at one of the most iconic events in professional golf, having been played annually since 1946.
It will mark the second appearance for Mehaffey and Grant at the U.S. Women's Open, with both having previously competed in the 2018 edition. The Sun Devil duo will go head-to-head with the top female golfers in the world, including Sun Devil alumni and current LPGA stars Carlota Ciganda, Azahara Munoz, Anna Nordqvist, and Linnea Strom (1st U.S. Open appearance).
"After having so much taken away this year, it is fantastic to see two of our Sun Devils have the opportunity to play in the US Open," Sun Devil Women's Golf Head Coach Missy Farr-Kaye exclaimed. "We also want to wish all of our Sun Devil alumni the best as they compete for the biggest major in women's golf."
In April 2020, the 75th U.S. Women's Open Championship, originally scheduled for June 4-7, 2020, was postponed to Dec. 10-13 due to evolving dynamics of the global COVID-19 pandemic. This marks the first time that the U.S. Women's Open will be played in December.
For the first time in U.S. Women's Open history, the championship will be played on two courses. To account for reduced daylight given the move to December, the Jackrabbit Course at Champions Golf Club will be used in conjunction with the Cypress Creek Course, which was originally slated to host all four rounds of championship play. The Jackrabbit will co-host Rounds 1 and 2. Tee-times and starting holes will be announced by the USGA next week.
The Sun Devil golfers will not be the only members of the program heading to Champions Golf Club. Associate Head Coach Michelle Estill will serve as the caddy for Olivia Mehaffey, an important role that requires trust and communication. Having worked together since Mehaffey's arrival in Tempe, Estill was the perfect fit.
"I'm so excited to be at the US Open supporting Olivia and Linn," Coach Estill remarked. "They both have worked so hard and it will be fun to watch both. I'm caddying for Olivia and she has said she won't make the bag too heavy. Olivia was a freshman when I started at ASU and I feel blessed to be part of her journey."
"It's going to be a fun week with Coach Estill on the bag," Mehaffey added.
MAGIC OF MEHAFFEY
Sun Devil Women's Golf senior Olivia Mehaffey prepares for her second career U.S. Women's Open and third LPGA Major Championship of 2020. She made her first cut at a major in September, completing all four rounds at the ANA Inspiration. Mehaffey has already accumulated professional experience that very few amateurs can match.
"I am very excited for the upcoming US Open and I feel very grateful to have the opportunity to represent ASU and Ireland at this major championship," Olivia Mehaffey mentioned. "I have loved every moment competing with the pros in the past and can't wait to get going."
"Olivia has done an amazing job handling the difficulties of this year and coming back for a 5th year," Coach Farr-Kaye observed. "Getting to play in the US Open is a great reward for her patience and resilience!"
Already one of the most decorated golfers in the history of the Sun Devil Women's Golf program, Mehaffey completed her fourth season in Tempe with a historic achievement. She became just the third four-time All-American in the history of the Arizona State Women's Golf program after being selected to the Honorable Mention team by the WGCA. She joined an exclusive list of Sun Devils to have been named All-Americans after each of their four years, one that includes Sun Devil Athletics Hall of Famer Kellee Booth (1995-98) and current LPGA Tour standout Azahara Munoz (2006-09).
In addition to the WGCA recognition, Mehaffey was also one of three Sun Devils to also earn All-American distinction by Golfweek, the third consecutive year the senior accomplished the feat. Due to the unique circumstances, Mehaffey has a chance to claim a record that may never be matched. She has the potential to be the first five-time All-American not only in program history, but in NCAA history.
LINN KNOWS HOW TO WIN
Sun Devil Women's Golf sophomore Linn Grant gets ready to participate in her second U.S. Women's Open, previously competing in 2018. She got off to a great start in her U.S. Open debut, turning heads after firing a 69 (-2) on the first day. She went on to make the cut and finish in 57th, one of the best results by an amateur. Grant looks to continue her strong play during the offseason.
"I'm looking forward to teeing up next week in the US Open both with the Sun Devil family and Sweden with me," Grant remarked. "Can't wait to see all the other Swedish players and coaches and to be able to have a fun week together again."
Two of those Swedish golfers include Sun Devil Women's Golf alumni Anna Nordqvist and Linnea Strom, as the program has a history of success recruiting from the talent-rich European country.
"It's not very often we get to do things together anymore as a whole group and having my parents and boyfriend there as well means a lot to me and makes the week even more special," Grant added.
"I am thrilled to watch Linn compete in the US Women's Open next week," Coach Farr-Kaye said. "She joins a long list of Sun Devil champions competing in Women's Golfs' biggest major!"
The Arizona State program has seen its share of breakout freshman seasons. The performance of Linn Grant during the 2019-20 season belongs in the discussion of one of the top freshman campaigns in school history. Grant was rewarded with Second-Team All-American recognition by Golfweek, her second All-American honor following her first season in Tempe. She was spectacular throughout her freshman season, finishing in the Top-10 at five of the seven tournaments.
Despite her inexperience at the collegiate level, she played with a consistency and maturity beyond her years, helping her land on the ANNIKA Award Watch List as one of 15 candidates for National Player of the Year. The highlight of Grant's season happened in Hawaii, as she took home Individual Medalist honors while leading her team to a victory at the Dr. Donnis Thompson Invitational, the only Sun Devil to pick up an individual win. She managed to remain in the Top-10 of the Golfstat Individual Rankings all season long, eventually settling at No. 8 in the final edition.
Currently ranked as the No. 5 female amateur in the World, Grant recently led Sweden to their third straight victory at the European Team Championships. The up-and-coming star will have the opportunity to gain additional experience on a big stage, as she was selected to two significant amateur International tournaments, the Palmer Cup in December and Augusta National Women's Amateur in 2021.
Mehaffey and Grant will be competing on the same course for the first time since leading Arizona State to a No. 3-ranking and making them one of the top National Title contenders. They both currently sit in the Top-17 of the World Amateur Golf Rankings and were named to the ANNIKA Award Preseason Watch List last month. The 2020 All-Americans were a force last season, helping the Sun Devils win three events and finish in the Top-5 at all eight tournaments.
"Both Olivia and I are proud to represent ASU along with alumni's and have our countries support," Grant exclaimed.
The pair will be busy this month, as they will team up on the International side for the rescheduled 2020 Palmer Cup, taking place December 21-23 at Bay Hill Club in Orlando.
HOW TO FOLLOW
For the latest updates and information on the Sun Devil Women's Golf program, follow our Twitter/Instagram accounts (@SunDevilWGolf), like our Facebook page (facebook.com/sundevilwgolf/), and visit our website (thesundevils.com).
Champions Golf Club was founded in 1957 by multiple major champions Jackie Burke Jr. and Jimmy Demaret in their hometown of Houston, Texas. They enlisted fellow Houstonian Ralph Plummer to be the architect of the esteemed Cypress Creek Course, which opened in 1959. Cypress Creek was carved into a beautiful forest featuring more than 70,000 trees, wide fairways and enormous greens. The Jackrabbit Course, designed by George Fazio, opened for play in 1964.
The first high-profile event the club hosted was the 1967 Ryder Cup when Ben Hogan captained the United States team to a 15-point victory. It has since held the 1969 U.S. Open, 1993 U.S. Amateur, two U.S. Women's Mid-Amateur championships and five PGA Tour Championships. It also hosted a PGA Tour event (the Houston/Champions International) five times between 1966 and 1971.