Nanna Koerstz Madsen

Nanna Koerstz Madsen hits a bunker shot on the first hole during the second round at the 2019 U.S. Women's Open at Country Club of Charleston in Charleston, S.C. on Friday, May 31, 2019. (Copyright USGA/Darren Carroll)

Denmark's Nanna Koerstz Madsen was a Gamecock briefly, spending one semester in 2014 playing golf for the University of South Carolina before turning professional.

Madsen, who tied for Saturday's best round at the U.S. Women's Open with a 5-under-par 66 that included an eagle, five birdies and two bogeys, said she knew she was going to turn pro when she went to South Carolina.

"To be honest, I didn't have that many offers and I wanted to go to a state where it was sunny and warm all year round," said Madsen, who still lives in Denmark but has an arrangement with a club in Boca Raton, Fla., when she is in the U.S. "It was a good school. I visited and I liked the girls and the coach and stuff. I liked it there. I just wanted to start professional."

Madsen quickly earned her Ladies European Tour qualifying privileges and has one win there. She got into the Women's Open through a qualifying tournament in California.

She also has a unique method of calming herself when she gets upset, biting on a wedge of lemon, something her mental coach suggested.

"It's just if I get nervous or too angry or something," she said. "It's just to take my mind off that stuff, bite lemon."

Slow play

Pace of play slowed to a crawl during Saturday's third round, and American amateur Andrea Lee, a junior at Stanford, was hit with a one-shot penalty for slow play.

She was 5-over for her round when she was informed of the penalty, which had been preceded by a warning. She wound up with a 7-over 79, but some on social media were on her side.

Lightning tree

The tree struck by lightning at the Country Club of Charleston on Friday afternoon was gone by the time patrons flooded the course for Saturday's third round.

Paul Mulkey of The Tree Clinic and his crew worked all night to remove the oak tree, which had been planted along the 18th fairway after Hurricane Hugo wreaked havoc in 1989.

Mulkey said the tree had to go, and that its health was already compromised by its limbs sprouting from the trunk in a close V shape instead of a wider U shape.

Country Club of Charleston tree

All that's left of an oak tree that was struck by lightning during the second round of the U.S. Women's Open at Country Club of Charleston. A crew worked all night to remove the damaged tree. Jeff Hartsell/Staff 

Eagle for Ernst

Austin Ernst finds herself in a familiar position heading into Sunday's final round. The Seneca native's best finish in a U.S. Women's Open was a year ago when she tied for 41st; she is tied for 42nd this year at 216 following a third-round 72.

But there was one bright spot. She holed out from the fairway for an eagle-2 on the par-4 seventh hole.

"I did not hit it very well, except on No. 7. I holed it from the fairway," said Ernst, who made only one birdie and four bogeys. "The irons weren't too good. I had to get up and down a ton, on the back nine especially...But I grinded it out. Go shoot a low one tomorrow and just post something as low as you can."

The Pro Game

Duke freshman Gina Kim, still in contention for the U.S. Women's Open title as an amateur after a third-round 73 left her at 2-under, said there's quite a difference between college tournaments and the professional game — especially with a $1 million first prize on the line.

"These women out here are fantastic at what they do," she said. "They've definitely invested a lot of time and effort into it. So I guess the atmosphere between a college tournament and here is definitely different.

"But I think everybody still has the same goal at the end of the day, play some good golf and shoot a low score. It's a very business-like atmosphere, but I can also tell people want to have fun as well."

Fassi's pro debut

Mexico's Maria Fassi, who won the NCAA Division I individual women's golf title a couple of weeks ago, is making the most of her professional debut. Fassi, one of the players who still had to complete her second round which was called because of darkness, needed to par her three remaining holes to make the 36-hole cut.

"Just playing to make the cut was definitely something I'm not used to," Fassi said. "It was nice to see how I handled it and interesting to see some of the emotions that I had. It was kind of weird just to putt, trying to make two-putts instead of being super aggressive."

After finishing the second round with a 73 for a 36-hole total of 3-over 145, Fassi moved up the leaderboard in the third round. She shot 32 on the front nine to get to 1-under for the tournament but made two bogeys and only one birdie on the back nine and carded a 3-under 68.

Reach Jeff Hartsell at 843-937-5596. Follow on Twitter @Jeff_fromthePC

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