18-Hole Scoring Record in the U.S. Women's Open

In the history of the U.S. Women's Open, what is the lowest score for any round played? That record is 63, and exactly one golfer has gone that low in the USWO.

The U.S. Women's Open is the oldest of the five tournaments that comprise the LPGA's major championships. It was first played in 1946 and first run by the USGA in 1953. In its history, only eight golfers so far have scored lower than 65, and just one of those lower than 64.

The recordholder is Helen Alfredsson, who scored 63 in the first round of the 1994 U.S. Women's Open. Her round was 8-under-par and three strokes better than anyone else that day. But Alfredsson, who won a different major, the 1993 Nabisco Dinah Shore, did not win this one. She had a four-stroke lead after 36 holes, but a 76 in Round 3 dropped her into third. She wound up tying for eighth place, eight strokes behind the winner, Patty Sheehan.

Still, Alfredsson, for all these years since, has been the solo recordholder for lowest round in U.S. Women's Open history:

Lowest 18-Hole Scores in U.S. Women's Open

  • 63 — Helen Alfredsson, first round, 1994 (finished tied for eighth)
  • 64 — Kelli Kuehne, first round, 1999 (finished in third place)
  • 64 — Lorie Kane, second round, 1999 (finished in fourth place)
  • 64 — Becky Iverson, second round, 1999 (finished tied for 12th)
  • 64 — Chella Choi, third round, 2015 (finished tied for 20th)
  • 64 — Mirim Lee, first round, 2016 (finished tied for 11th)
  • 64 — Mina Harigae, first round, 2022 (finished in second place)
  • 64 — Hyejin Choi, second round, 2022 (finished in third place)
There have been many 65s in the U.S. Women's Open, but the first golfer to do it was Sally Little in 1978. Also note that it was Little's scoring record (matched by multiple others) that Alfredsson broke with her 63 in 1994 — no other golfer had gone lower than 65 at that point. (In fact, it took another five years, until 1999, before the first 64 was scored in the USWO.)

Progression of U.S. Women's Open 18-Hole Scoring Record

How did we get to the current record of 63? This is how the 18-hole record was lowered over the years, beginning in 1953, the year the USGA took over running the championship:
  • 71 — Patty Berg, first round, 1953
  • 68 — Fay Crocker, second round, 1958
  • 67 — Judy Bell, third round, 1964
  • 65 — Sally Little, fourth round, 1978
  • 63 — Helen Alfredsson, first round, 1994
Judy Bell was an amateur in 1964 (and thereafter), and her 67 was 11 strokes better than she scored in any other round. It was a whopping 16 strokes better than she scored in the final round! She finished in 12th place, and later served as president of the United States Golf Association.

Also note that Little's 65 in the final round in 1978 was 10 strokes better than she scored in any other round. And it was almost, but not quite, enough to propel Little to victory: She tied for second place, one stroke behind.

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