Houston – Amy Olson sang bars from Josh Groban's song "You Raise Me Up" to mask her grief Monday.
Olson was playing in the final threesome in the final round of the 75th U.S. Women's Open — the most prestigious tournament in women's golf — but her heart was elsewhere after the death Saturday night of her father-in-law from a heart attack.
Still, the 2014 North Dakota State graduate and Oxbow, N.D., native took the solo lead on the back nine in her bid to gain both her first LPGA victory — and a major at that — at Champions Golf Club. Olson wound up tied for second, one stroke behind South Korea's A Lim Kim, who ran off birdies on the final three holes to cap a comeback victory.
"I knew I had to stay very mentally disciplined just to get through the day," Olson said. "I allowed myself to think about what I'm grateful for, and I've got a long list."
Olson, 28, married Wayzata native Grant Olson in 2017. The former NDSU linebacker is now an assistant coach for the Bison.
Golfweek first reported the death of Lee Olson on Sunday night.
Grant had flown to Houston to watch his wife play but returned to North Dakota to be with his mother and brother.
Olson won 20 times at NDSU to tie an NCAA record but remains winless in seven years on the LPGA Tour. She had a two-shot lead on the back nine after 54-hole leader Hinako Shibuno faltered. But she couldn't do anything about Kim's late charge, and Olson fell back when her hybrid on the par-3 16th bounded over the green and into thick, brown rough, leading to bogey.
She parred the 17th and birdied the final hole for a 1-over 72 after Kim had already secured the title.
Olson, trying to become the first American to win the U.S. Women's Open since 2016, couldn't think of many shots she wanted back after three early bogeys. The cold weather, the mud-splotched golf balls and the U.S. Women's Open test helped keep her mind from wandering.
Only four players finished under par: Kim (281), world No. 1 Jin Young Ko (282), Olson (282) and Shibuno (283).
Because it took place so late in the year, this U.S. Women's Open had the rare chance to showcase its players in America without sharing the stage with a 72-hole PGA Tour event or other U.S.-based events in a schedule that is usually packed during its normal late spring date.
Kim, 25, started the final round, delayed to Monday because of rain, in a tie for ninth. No one had ever started in a position that far back and won the U.S. Women's Open. She became the seventh player to rally from five shots behind in the final round, and the first since Annika Sorenstam at The Broadmoor in 1995.
Kim, who is not a member of the LPGA, earned $1 million for the victory. She also is eligible for a two-year tour membership, but said she is not sure if she will join in 2021. The decision would likely require several major disruptions to her life.
"I just need some more time to think about it," Kim said.
She provided a perhaps fitting portrait of a champion of a tournament that was delayed six months because of the coronavirus pandemic. She won wearing a face covering on and off the golf course while establishing herself as the class of the field.
This was Kim's U.S. debut and with the win she becomes the latest in a long line of Korean players to take women's golf by storm.
Olson was asked after her opening round, which included a hole-in-one, if it was tough to win so much in college and have to wait so long to win as a pro.
"The biggest thing I've learned is perspective, and what do I consider success," she said. "And at the end of my life, it's not going to be a number of tournaments that I've won. It's how I live my life, so trying to maintain that perspective, I think, is really important for me."