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‘It’s gotta be the Dior shoes’: Mina Harigae dials in at US Women’s Open

Mina Harigae lines up a putt on the 17th hole during the first round of the 2022 U.S. Women’s Open. (David Cannon/Getty Images)

SOUTHERN PINES, N.C. — After Mina Harigae’s press conference Thursday evening, not long after she shot a seven-under par 64 to take a one-shot lead in the opening round of the U.S. Women’s Open, she divulged the magic behind her career-best round at the major.

“It’s gotta be the Dior shoes, for sure,” Harigae said, laughing.

The Jordan Brand aficionado received a pair of custom Jordan Diors from her agent, Alex Guerrero, during a practice round on Tuesday afternoon at Pine Needles Golf Club. The gesture was the result of the 32-year-old’s year-long journey with the brand.

Guerrero primarily works with professional male athletes and is used to his clients receiving free products. So, he sent a note to Jordan Brand explaining that Harigae had felt comfortable playing in Jordan ADG golf shoes during U.S. Women’s Open qualifying last year. From there, Jordan started a relationship with Harigae, while she and her fiancé and caddie, Travis Kreiter, became full-blown Jordan sneakerheads.

“I got about 10 new pairs in the last like two months,” Harigae said Thursday. “But Travis has way more.”

Kreiter said he has about 50-60 pairs of shoes, but the new Diors are his favorite because of their exclusivity. Guerrero ordered a pair of Jordan 1 lows and sent them to shoe artist Tyler Liber so he could customize them for the couple. The gift acknowledges how far they’ve come in the last year, over a decade since Harigae made her U.S. Women’s Open debut at Pine Needles Golf Club in 2007 at just 17 years old.

“Feeling wanted and loved is half the battle in this game,” Guerrero said.

The couple received the shoes Tuesday after a delayed redeye flight out of Phoenix pushed their arrival time back a day. Instead of worrying, they focused on what they needed to do to prepare for Day 1.

Krieter walked the opening eight holes to scout the renovated Pine Needles track, and Harigae practiced.

“In my eyes, a lot of times it’s easy to get stressed at majors,” Kreiter said. “The longer you’re here, the worse it is sometimes.”

On the range, they recognized the gap in distance between Harigae’s driver and three-wood might be too much for the week. So they worked with Harigae’s club sponsor, PXG’s club representative Scotty Kim, to tweak her three-wood setup. They tried out four separate shafts before deciding to increase her shaft length from 43 to 43.5 inches, and switch out her Ventus Blue shaft to a Ventus Red shaft to maximize height and carry.

“Because Mina has great tempo, I thought that she would be able to manage the slightly longer club length,” Kim wrote in a text.

With the changes, Harigae increased her ball speed, peak height and total distance without relinquishing any control. On Wednesday, Harigae got her first taste of the course after its 2021 renovation, playing the final 10 holes for the first time in 15 years when she finished T-66 at the 2007 U.S. Women’s Open.

The three-wood adjustments gave Harigae a boost right away on Thursday afternoon. Her second shot on the first hole, a 507-yard par-5, sat 224 yards away from the front. Instead of leaving an awkward 20-yard pitch shot, Harigae hit her three wood and ended up 4 yards from the front of the green. The Monterey, Calif. native chipped it to within 8 feet of the cup with a bump-and-run sand wedge, setting her up to make her first of nine birdies during the round.

“I do that a ton,” Harigae said when asked about not playing all 18 holes before the first round. “I think it’s just more keeping the ball in front of me, picking conservative-ish targets and not going at pins.

“Honestly, any golf course, any tournament, as long you hit it where Travis tells me to go, I feel like I’m good to go.”

Harigae slotted in PXG’s “Hercules” model during the Bank of Hope LPGA match play last week, which Kreiter received the Friday before the Las Vegas tournament. Kreiter recalled the last time Harigae used his putter, she finished in second place at the 2021 Marathon Classic.

“You can steal my putter as long as you keep making birdies,” Kreiter joked.

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Harigae's PXG's "Hercules" putter, as shown by fiancé Travis Keiter (Kent Paisley/Just Women's Sports)

They polished off their preparations by having her hold her putter more level, which led to more consistency on the greens. On Thursday, she recorded 24 putts, her lowest total since hitting 23 in the opening round of the Honda LPGA Thailand in March.

“She’s been closer than results have shown,” Kreiter said. “Even the 12th-place finish, we didn’t make hardly anything outside of 10 feet.”

After recording her first round in the 60s at the U.S. Women’s Open in 37 rounds, the 13-year veteran heads into Friday’s round with the first 18-hole lead of her LPGA career. Harigae, however, isn’t letting herself look too far ahead. With her Jordans on, she plans to stay present on one of the grandest stages in golf.

“Just being appreciative of where I am, really taking in the moment, but at the same time, not trying to put so much precedent on how big the moment is,” Harigae said. “It’s another day on the golf course, another hole.”

Kent Paisley is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports covering golf and the LPGA. He also contributes to Golf Digest. Follow him on Twitter @KentPaisley.

Esme Morgan Signs With Washington Spirit

Esme Morgan of England inspects the pitch prior to the UEFA Women's EURO 2025 qualifying match between England and France
The England national will join the Spirit in DC on July 15th. (Naomi Baker - The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

English defender Esme Morgan has signed with the Washington Spirit, the club announced Thursday. 

Morgan had been with WSL side Manchester City since 2017, with one year remaining on her contract. She’ll now make a move to the NWSL, with City receiving a fee for the move. 

"I wanted to join the Spirit because they have the ambition and tools to be the best team in the NWSL, and trying to achieve that will be a great but enjoyable challenge," Morgan said in a club statement.

"On an individual level too, the opportunity to work under Jonatan [Giráldez], one of the world's best coaches, is really exciting and I look forward to learning from him and pushing myself to become the best player I can be, hopefully helping the team to success."

According to ESPN, Morgan’s lack of playing time under City manager Gareth Taylor played a key role in her decision to leave the league championship runners-up. She’ll join the Spirit in Washington, DC on July 15th, but won’t be able to begin play until August. 

Spirit president Mark Krikorian called Morgan an "exceptional talent" and added that the club is "thrilled" to add her to the roster.

"I think she’s pretty talented," Giraldez told reporters on Friday. "A young player with a great future, but with experience already in a great league and with the national team. She’s been surrounded by great players and also great coaches, so she can give us experience."

Ledecky Goes for 4 at Olympic Swimming Trials

Swimmer katie ledecky swimming at Toyota US Open
Decorated swimmer Katie Ledecky is aiming to make her fourth-straight Olympic squad. (Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

The US Olympic Swimming Trials begin this weekend, running from June 15th through June 23rd in Indianapolis, with Katie Ledecky eyeing her fourth-straight Summer Games.

While traditionally held in Omaha, Indiana's Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the NFL's Indianapolis Colts, has been fitted with a 50-meter pool to host the meet that will determine the 2024 Paris Olympics roster.

All eyes will be on seven-time Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky, who will be competing in the 200-meter, 400-meter, 800-meter, and 1500-meter freestyle — all events in which she’s been an Olympic champion. 

Rival Ariarne Titmus had her trials last week, breaking the world record in the 200-meter freestyle. Ledecky’s 200 is intended to qualify her for the Olympic relay. Meanwhile stateside, Katie Grimes stands to be a challenger in the 1500-meter freestyle has already qualified for the Paris Olympics in the 10km open water event.

Other competitors of note include 47-year-old Gabrielle Rose, who stands to become the oldest US Swimming Olympic qualifier in the 100-meter and 200-meter breaststroke.

Additionally, Kate Douglass — an NCAA and World Champion — is a favorite to make her first Olympic team in the 200-meter IM and 200-meter breaststroke. Simone Manuel, an Olympic champion in the 100-meter freestyle, is also looking to make her third-straight Olympics.

Where to watch: The Trials will be streaming all week on Peacock, with later qualifying heats airing live on USA Network and event finals airing in primetime on NBC.

Orlando and Kansas City Shoot for 13 in NWSL Weekend Action

NWSL's T. Chawinga #6 of the Kansas City Current passes the ball during the first half of their game against the Utah Royals FC
The Kansas City Current hopes to extend its NWSL unbeaten streak to 13 with a win over Chicago. (Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

The 13th match weekend is fast approaching in the NWSL, with two season-long unbeaten streaks on the line.

League-leaders Kansas City and Orlando will attempt to survive the weekend with their unbeaten runs intact, as the Current host Chicago on Friday and the Pride travel to North Carolina for Saturday's match.

But while Kansas City and Orlando have been the gold standard this year, they're still a number of wins away from tying Washington's record for longest unbeaten streak in a single NWSL season. In 2021, the Spirit went 20 games without a loss en route to the club's first NWSL championship.

Both Gotham and Louisville are carrying momentum into their matchup on Saturday. Louisville is unbeaten in three games, and they’re looking to finally leapfrog Chicago and claim sixth place in the league standings. Gotham, on a seven-game unbeaten run, is into fifth place.

Portland and Seattle will face off in the Cascadia Clash this weekend, with Golden Boot contender Sophia Smith absent, as the decorated forward was shown a red card last weekend for time-wasting on the bench.

The Reign could use a win against their long-time rivals, as a difficult start has 13th-place Seattle registering only two wins amid nine losses so far this season.

Elsewhere in the league, 2024 expansion teams Bay FC and Utah meet for the first time this weekend, as both look to rise from the bottom half of the standings. And Washington will ride a four-game winning streak into Saturday's game against a San Diego side that's earned two hard-fought draws in recent weeks.

Watch more: "Sophia Smith is INNOCENT!" on The Late Sub with Claire Watkins

WNBA All-Star Voting Starts on June 13th

Phoenix Mercury mascot Scorch waving a 2024 WNBA All-Star flag at a 2023 home game.
Phoenix Mercury will host the 20th-annual All-Star Game on July 20th, 2024. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Voting for the 2024 AT&T WNBA All-Star Game opened at 2 PM ET today and runs through June 29th.

All active WNBA players are eligible to make the All-Star Game, set for July 20th in Phoenix. Unlike previous formats that featured two voted-in All-Star squads, this year’s contest pits a single All-Star team against the already-decided Olympic-bound USA Women’s National Team.

Fans can submit a daily ballot nominating up to 10 athletes via WNBA.com or the WNBA App.

Fan-submitted ballots account for 50% of vote, with the other 50% split equally between current WNBA players and members of the media. The top 10 athletes will automatically make the All-Star Game, with league coaches then voting from a pool of the next 36 to complete Team WNBA’s 12-player roster. The final lineup will be announced on July 2nd.

This year's All-Star Game format presents an opportunity for fans to vote for players they might consider Olympic snubs. Indiana rookie Caitlin Clark and Dallas’s Arike Ogunbawole seem like shoo-ins given the discussion surrounding their Olympic omissions, while Connecticut stars Brionna Jones and DeWanna Bonner are also expected to snag All-Star nods.

And after a career-high 20-point, 10-rebound double-double in last night’s 83-75 loss to the Sun, Chicago rookie Angel Reese could also secure a spot.

Regardless, it won't necessarily be smooth sailing for Team USA, as history has tended to favor the underdog. 

The first USA vs. All-Stars matchup took place in 2021, with the league’s squad humbling the Tokyo Olympians 93-85. With 26 points, Ogunbawole was named All-Star Game MVP after barely missing the Olympic cut. Could she and Clark turn the tables on Team USA this year?

Watch more: "Were Caitlin Clark and Arike Ogunbowale snubbed?" by Expert Adjacent

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