Solheim stars take back seat to budding mathematician in U.S. Open qualifying

Linn Grant had more pressing matters on her mind as she qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open. Thirty-six holes of golf at the Buckinghamshire Golf Club just north of London was a breeze compared to the 8 a.m. math exam the 18-year-old was due to sit the following morning.

Solheim Cup stars Catriona Matthew and Mel Reid had to take a back seat as the precocious teenager qualified with ease for the $5 million U.S. Women’s Open later this month at Shoal Creek, Ala.

Matthew finished seven shots back. Reid was nine shots off Grant’s pace, while Austria’s Sarah Schober took the fourth and final spot. She survived a five-way playoff with English players Sophie Walker and Rachael Goodall, Scotland’s Heather Macrae and Christine Wolf of Austria.

Grant grabbed the lead in the morning with a 5-under-par 67, a round that saw her birdie all four of the Buckinghamshire’s four par fives. She recorded a double bogey at the par-3 third in her afternoon round and made two further bogeys. However, six birdies, including three straight from the 7th hole gave her a 2-under-par 70.

Then she hopped on a plane back to Helsingborg for that early-morning  appointment with equations and formulas.

A further irony in Grant bettering a player 30 years her senior is that she won the 2017 Ladies British Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship over Matthew’s home course of North Berwick, Scotland.

Grant arrived in England ranked 58th on the World Amateur Golf Ranking, making her the fourth best Swedish amateur. That ranking is sure to rise if her play at the Buckinghamshire is a relative measure.

Matthew opened the qualifying with a round of 69 in the morning. The 2019 Solheim Cup captain slipped to a 75 in the afternoon, but still qualified by three shots. Reid escaped the playoff by a shot.

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