Biggest Final-Round Comebacks to Win U.S. Women's Open

What is the largest comeback after 54 holes to win the U.S. Women's Open? In the major championship's history, there are multiple golfers who began the final round five strokes off the lead, then rallied to win the tournament.

Among the golfers who staged 5-stroke, final round comebacks to win the USWO are Hall of Famers Annika Sorenstam, Betsy King and Donna Caponi. It has happened a couple times in recent years, too.

But the first golfer to do it, the one who established five strokes as the tournament-record for biggest final-round comeback, was Murle Lindstrom. Lindstrom (who later played as Murle Breer) trailed third-round leader Ruth Jessen by five as the final round began at the 1962 U.S. Women's Open. But Jessen struggled to an 80 while Lindstrom carded a 73. She won by two strokes over Jessen, who still tied for second place.

Best Comeback by Winner, Final Round, U.S. Women's Open

  • 5 strokes — Murle Lindstrom (78-74-76-73), Dunes G. & B.C., Myrtle Beach, S.C., 1962
  • 5 strokes — Donna Caponi (74-76-75-73), Scenic Hills C.C., Pensacola, Fla., 1969
  • 5 strokes — Jane Geddes (74-74-70-69), NCR C.C., Kettering, Ohio, 1986
  • 5 strokes — Betsy King (72-71-71-70), Atlanta Athletic Club (Riverside Course), Duluth, Ga., 1990
  • 5 strokes — Lauri Merten (71-71-70-68), Crooked Stick G.C., Carmel, Ind., 1993
  • 5 strokes — Annika Sorenstam (67-71-72-68), Broadmoor G.C. (East Course) Colorado Springs, Colo., 1995
  • 5 strokes — A Lim Kim (68-74-72-67), Champions G.C. (Cypress Creek & Jackrabbit Courses), Houston, Texas, 2020
  • 5 strokes — Yuka Saso (69-67-71-73), The Olympic Club (Lake Course), San Francisco, Calif., 2021

Unfortunately for Ruth Jessen, she was also the golfer who blew the 5-stroke lead at the 1969 USWO, where Caponi was the winner. Caponi scored 69 to win by one stroke, Jessen shot 78 and finished fourth.

In Betsy King's 5-shot comeback win in 1990, it was another Hall of Famer, Patty Sheehan, who led after the third round. But King scored 70 in the final round and Sheehan 76.

And at the 1995 U.S. Women's Open, Meg Mallon, the 1991 winner, was five strokes ahead of Annika Sorenstam after 54 holes. In the final round, Sorenstam had a 68 to Mallon's 74. It was the first of Sorenstam's three wins in the USWO. But Mallon won another USWO herself, in 2004.

Best final-round comeback to tie: Let's also give a mention to Barbara McIntire. As an amateur in the 1956 USWO, McIntire was eight strokes off the lead of Kathy Cornelius after the third round. Then, in the final round, McIntire came all the way back to tie Cornelius, shooting 71 to Cornelius' 79. Unfortunately for McIntire, she wasn't able to finish off the comeback: Cornelius beat her by seven shots in the 18-hole playoff.

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