PEBBLE BEACH, CA — In the same week that Honolulu native Michelle Wie bid goodbye to the women’s game, another Honolulu product named Allisen Corpuz stepped up at Pebble Beach to win the U.S. Women’s Open — the first ever played at the legendary course — for her first LPGA title.
The 25-year-old Corpuz was the only golfer in the 156-player field to card under-par rounds all four days of the tournament. And on Sunday, she put together a dominant final-round 69 to finish at 9 under — a full three shots clear of the field — and claim the $2 million prize, the richest ever for an LPGA major champion.
After producing two bogeys on the front nine and making the turn tied at the top with Japan’s Nasa Hataoka, Corpuz steadied the ship on the back nine, fending off hard charges from not just Hataoka but also England’s Charley Hull, who shot a final-round-low 66. But once Corpuz birdied the 10th hole to take a 1-stroke lead, she did not look back, adding birdies on 14 and 15 to cement the result.
Hilary Lunke in 2003 at Pumpkin Ridge was the last American to get her first win at the U.S. Women’s Open, that one in a three-way Monday playoff.
Much like her even-keeled demeanor that never wavered all week, Corpuz’s game was sound throughout. Rarely did she ever stray from the fairways — she hit 43 of 56 for the week — and paired that with 2.77 strokes gained on approaches, second best in the field.
Her putting was also particularly stellar on Sunday, as she made four putts of 10 feet or more, doubling what she had made all week from that range.
“Putting has always been her bugaboo, but she’s improved so much since college,” Justin Silverstein, her coach at USC, told ESPN in a phone call Sunday. “She picked up 1.4 shots on the greens over her career at USC.”
Corpuz played college golf at USC from 2016 to ’21 and led the Trojans women’s golf team with a 71.57 stroke average. She was named a first-team All-American and went on to represent the United States at the 2021 Curtis Cup. She turned pro in 2021, and though she had yet to win a major or an LPGA tournament, her performance had been trending upwards in 2023. At the year’s first two majors, Corpuz finished tied for 15th and tied for fourth. As far as Silverstein was concerned, it was only a matter of time before it all came together.
“She’s a generationally great iron player and ball-striker,” Silverstein said. “This week has been a lot of what we saw in college.”
Heading into the week, Silverstein said he felt like Pebble Beach presented an ideal golf course and setup for Corpuz. The small greens would accentuate her accurate ball-striking, while the fairways were just wide enough to where she could live within the boundaries if she hit anywhere close to her rate of 85% of fairways this season.
The poa annua grass on the greens was also one that was familiar to Corpuz, who played on similar grasses both growing up and in college. In fact, as Silverstein pointed out, Corpuz still does much of her playing and practicing at Southern California golf courses with similarities to Pebble.
“It’s no surprise at this golf course that she’s excelling,” Silverstein said of his thinking at the beginning of the week. “She’s built for major championships.”
Corpuz has also worked extensively with Bill Nelson, a mental performance coach for LPGA players. As Silverstein pointed out, Nelson and Corpuz have spent time working on not just visualization, but also breathing techniques and even controlling her walk from shot to shot so that she remains calm and composed throughout.
“She has a great demeanor on the golf course, she has a great way of looking chill,” Silverstein said. “But inside she’s pretty fiery. She’s tough as s—.”
As Corpuz stepped up to the final hole on Sunday, the result no longer in question, her steady composure and walk remained. But after she hit her last fairway of the week with another accurate drive, she began walking down the 18th fairway toward the rousing cheers and trophy that awaited her and allowed herself to smile.
Information from The Associated Press was included in this report.