North Dakota State's Amy Anderson spends four months out of the year hitting golf balls in an indoor facility because of the cold weather. She has never really played on a mountainous course with greens as tricky as the East Course at the Broadmoor.
And yet here she is, an amateur turning into one of the biggest surprises in the rain-shortened first round of the U.S. Women's Open. Anderson worked her way to 2 under after 12 holes before play was suspended Thursday. She's tied with Cristie Kerr for the lead.
Even Anderson, the second-team All-American, was stunned by the day's developments. Walking up to the seventh hole, she glanced at the leaderboard, seeing her name at the top. She wished she would've had a camera.
"That was surreal," said Anderson, whose brother, Nathan, serves as her caddy. "My brother and I joked, 'Somebody better get a picture of that. It's not gonna be up there for very long.'"
Anderson left the course knowing she was safe for the night. She'll wake up with the lead as she starts up her round again by putting on the 13th green, staring at a 15-footer for another birdie.
"I like being the underdog," said Anderson, who turns 19 on Sunday. "It's a position I'm really comfortable with. To me, I don't expect to go out and win this or continue playing like this. I'm gonna try to work as hard as I can to do that, but I'm just going to go out there and have fun."
Anderson earned her spot in the U.S. Open field through qualifying at the Medina, Minn., sectional. This after a solid second season with North Dakota State, where she won five tournaments.
Because of the snow and cold on the plains, Anderson spends a good portion of the year practicing inside on a 60-yard range that features artificial turf.
"When the spring comes around, I'm ready to go," said Anderson, an accounting major who grew up in Oxbow, N.D. "I'm really excited."
Anderson hasn't spent much time putting on mountain courses. But for most of the morning she was rolling the ball well, even sinking two birdies.
For her understanding of the greens, she credits her older brother, who also plays for North Dakota State. The siblings arrived a week early and charted the challenging greens.
"He takes care of all that and I do what he tells me," Anderson said. "I was pretty nervous on the first tee this morning and then settled down.
"First-day leader? That's way more than I could have really imagined."
RAIN ON THE PARADE: The USGA is still hoping for a Sunday finish and has a couple of ideas about how to get there.
With no chance of completing the second round by Friday, officials are considering playing the third and fourth rounds in threesomes instead of twosomes. They're also considering using two-tee starts that are usually reserved for the first two rounds.
"Obviously, the USGA is not a stranger to situations like this, but we're going to do what Mother Nature allows us to do and continue to get in as much golf as we possibly can to provide a Sunday finish," said Tournament Director Ben Kimball.
The forecast calls for a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms Friday, with an improving weather picture over the weekend.
COACH & CADDIE: If I.K. Kim needs some instant swing advice, she won't have far to turn.
Her coach, Chris Mayson, offered to fill in when she needed someone to carry her bag this week. They didn't get the chance to tee off, though, as weather postponed their afternoon tee time.
In the days ahead, Mayson doesn't plan on imparting too much wisdom on Kim, who has three wins in her career. He just hopes to be a calming influence.
"She's such an amazing player. She knows what she's doing," Mayson said.
ALTITUDE ADJUSTMENT: Juli Inkster has devised a chart to help her figure out what club to hit at altitude. It's easier than doing the math.
Typically, a player will take about 10 percent off the distance for a shot at the Broadmoor, which has an elevation of 6,700 feet. So if the green is 150 yards away, it will actually play more like 135.
That's too complicated in Inkster's opinion. Her graph is much more helpful.
"I get my number, look on my graph and go with that club," said Inkster, who shot a 3-over-par 74 Thursday. "I thought we did really well with our club selection today."
BACKUP PLANS: Cristie Kerr, who's tied for the lead at 2 under, has three holes left to finish up her opening round Friday morning. After that, she's not sure when may play again but doesn't anticipate getting back on the course Friday.
Not with the back log of golfers waiting to play and weather possibly moving back into the area.
Kerr figures to hit some golf balls on the range after her final three holes and then, well, possibly have some fun.
"Maybe go get my nails done," she said, smiling.
CHIP SHOTS: Just before Se Ri Pak hit her tee shot on the par-3 fourth, a cell phone went off in the stands. Security quickly confiscated the phone as the patrons applauded. ... Sue Kim, who's at 1 over, has one putt left to finish up her first round. "Well, hopefully it will be one putt," she said.