Hilo’s Britney Yada has battled the windy golf conditions in West Hawaii, the wet at Hilo Muni and her college days at Portland State combined with her pro career in Arizona have prepared her to play in practically any kind of temperature.
The deep rough at the Olympic Club in San Francisco may provide a new challenge, but it’s one she’s taking head on as she tees off Thursday at her second U.S. Women’s Open.
“It is so awesome to be here,” Yada said. “There is so much history here, and it is an extremely difficult golf course. This is some of the longest and thickest rough I’ve ever experienced, so keeping it in the fairway is key.”
Yada, a former Waiakea standout, fired a 4-under 138 on May 10 in a qualifier in Colorado to earn an alternate spot to the national championship. She was planning to play at the Colorado Women’s Open this week until she got an email that she was the first alternate on the list, so she hopped on a plane to the Bay Area.
“It was a little surprise … but it wasn’t too much of a scramble,” she said.
Yada, who will turn 30 in October, tees off on the Lake Course along with amateur Chloe Kovelesky and Megan Osland at 9:16 a.m. Pacific time. The group just behind her includes amateur Claire Choi, a former HHSAA champion at Punahou (Oahu).
This is the first time the women are playing the U.S. Open here but the men have held five Opens on this course. Only four players finished under par in those tournaments.
The high rough could play into Yada’s hands, she said.
“Accuracy is one of my strengths, so I am looking forward to seeing how my game holds up here,” she said. “And yes, it is supposed to be very windy. It’s just overall going to be a very challenging week for everyone. Just need to stay mentally strong through it.”
At the 2018 US. Open at Shoal Creek in Alabama, Yada missed the cut at 16-over.
“(That) was a great experience for me,” she said. “I think this time, I’ll know how to handle my nerves a little better. It’s all about believing I’m good enough to be there.”
In 2020, Yada led the Cactus Tour money list and recorded five victories in 22 events. This year, she’s pocketed one victory, at Litchfield Park, Ariz, and she made the cut in her last tournament in May on the Symetra Tour –– the official developmental golf tour of the LPGA Tour –– finishing at 1-over 214 in Londwood, Fla.
“My game has gotten better and my mental game has also improved over the last year and a half,” Yada said. “These are the moments professional golfers live for, so I am just going to enjoy the ride this week.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report