Kim Saiki had been on the LPGA Tour for 13 years without a victory, and less than two months ago was seriously considering a career change. In early May, she sent out resumes to clubs looking for a job as a teaching professional.
Last week, Saiki, 38, finally broke through with her first career win in Rochester, N.Y. This week, she has been in contention for the lead at the U.S. Women's Open every day. She'll go into Sunday's final round only six shots off the 54-hole lead held by Jennifer Rosales.
"After the Sybase [in Connecticut], I had kind of an informal meeting with the executive director for the Metropolitan section of the PGA of America," said Saiki, who shot 74 on Saturday and is at 1-under 212. "I was thinking about taking a different kind of career path. . . .
"I guess I'd have to say I wasn't satisfied. The lifestyle wears on you, the traveling is tough. I want to get married and have kids some day, and I just felt like I should take a different path."
Those plans may be put on hold because of her recent success. But when it's time for Saiki to make the move, apparently few caddies will be sorry to see her go.
Saiki, who admitted she can be difficult at times, has gone through countless loopers over her career and admitted the longest she has ever lasted with one caddie has been 16 weeks.
"It's been something I didn't deal with very well," she said. "I think some of the caddies misunderstand when I get angry or frustrated. I'm very, very hard on myself, always have been. I think they may have taken things personally. I've never intentionally directed anything to any caddies, but I guess that's why they don't know my personality well enough."
Pat Hurst was only five shots out of the lead when she came to the seemingly benign 163-yard 10th hole Saturday and hit what looked like a sweet tee shot at the pin on the right side of the green. It seemed for a moment she'd hit to within 15 feet of the flag for a birdie attempt.
But the 10th green slopes back toward the tee, and her ball started trickling off the putting surface and rolled down the front slope and into the collar. She chipped her second shot 15 feet short of the pin, and it rolled back almost to the same place. She chipped again, same result.
Finally, she got her third chip to within six feet, and made the putt for double bogey. To her credit, she fought back and posted 71-212, also six off the lead.
First-round leader Brittany Lincicome continued to struggle Saturday, shooting a 76, 10 shots higher than her opening round. The 18-year-old from Seminole, Fla., is 6 over in her first Open appearance, but happy to be still playing on the weekend.
"I'm hitting the ball so good right now, but I'm not scoring," she said. "But I'm very excited to still be here. That was my first objective, just to make the cut. If I play better tomorrow, I'll be happy."