Stacy Lewis was walking up the 16th fairway Saturday afternoon at Interlachen when she saw a leaderboard and turned to her father, who was carrying her bag in her professional debut.
"Hey," she told him, bumping his arm. "I'm tied for the lead in the Open."
Two holes later, Lewis watched one final birdie putt slip into the corner of the cup for a 6-under 67 that gave her a one-shot lead over Paula Creamer in the U.S. Women's Open, one round away from a completing a script right out of Hollywood.
Amazing, indeed, and not just because she turned pro 19 days ago.
Lewis spent her teen years in a back brace when doctors diagnosed her with scoliosis, only to learn that it didn't heal and she required surgery to install a steel rod and five screws in her vertebrae.
"I thought I was done playing golf forever," Lewis said.
Five years later, she is one round away from a U.S. Women's Open title that only she believed possible.
"I've accomplished my goal for the week," said Lewis, a former NCAA champion at Arkansas. "It was just to put myself in contention. And whatever happens tomorrow, it happens. I hope I win. I want to win ... probably more than anybody here. But I have to hit a lot of good golf shots before I win this golf tournament."
She will have to hold off a half-dozen players within four shots of the lead, starting with Creamer, who missed a 6-foot birdie putt on the final hole and settled for a 69.
Creamer is two years younger but already in her fourth season on the LPGA Tour with six victories, enough for some to already anoint the 21-year-old product of a golf academy as the best player without a major.
"I couldn't ask for any better position," Creamer said. "Tomorrow I just have to go out and finish the deal. The golf course sets up really well for my game. And possibly, it's my time."
Lewis was at 9-under 210, setting up an All-American final group at the U.S. Women's Open for the first time in five years.
Helen Alfredsson stayed close to the lead throughout an afternoon of scattered clouds at Interlachen and came in at 71 to finish two shots out of the lead at 7-under 212, along with Inbee Park (71).
In-Kyung Kim had a 69 and was another shot behind, while eight-time LPGA Tour winner Mi Hyun Kim had a 70 and was at 214.
Lewis already has had a month to remember.
It began on the Old Course at St. Andrews on June 1, where she became the first player in Curtis Cup history to go 5-0 in leading the Americans to another victory. She turned pro on June 9, and won her Women's Open qualifier that day by four shots.
"I only play in golf tournaments to win," she said with quiet conviction, not bravado. "I'm not here to make the cut or finish top 10 or do any of that. I'm here to win. People might see that as arrogant, but I think if you're not here to win, you're never going to be successful."
In many respects, she's already a huge success.
Lewis had to wear a hard, plastic brace on her back 18 hours a day for seven years. Then came surgery right after she graduated high school, leaving her future so uncertain that she thought only of swinging a club, not winning trophies.
"I just wanted to play golf," she said. "I just wanted to qualify for my team. I didn't think I'd win my tournaments. I didn't think about any of that. I just wanted to get back out there and play again."
Nearly a year after surgery, she tried qualifying for a tournament at Arkansas and won by 20 shots.
On the bag this week is her father, Dale, who paced for six hours in the waiting room the day of the surgery, then was amazed as his daughter won 12 times in college, the highlight an NCAA title a year ago.
"Every day, my wife and I just kind of pinch ourselves," he said. "We never dreamed anything like this would happen. We just wanted her to be normal and not have to wear a brace."
The final group presents quite the contrast.
Creamer's family moved her from northern California to Florida to attend a golf academy, and she won her first LPGA Tour title shortly before going through high school graduation.
She has never finished in the top 10 at the U.S. Women's Open, and has never contended on the back nine of any major. But she might be due, especially in a year where she already has won twice.
Lewis graduated with a degree in finance, and she is hardly an unknown at this U.S. Women's Open. She tied for fifth at the Kraft Nabisco Championship last year as an amateur, and she was the first-round leader at the Northwest Arkansas Championship last year with a 65. Just her luck, the rest of the tournament was rained out and the scores were wiped from the record books.
"I was in the middle of a big controversy and my name got out there," Lewis said. "I can say I beat 143 of the best players in the world in one day, so there's nothing wrong with that."
Lorena Ochoa was desperate for a quick start to get back in the game, but this isn't what she had in mind. She played the first four holes in 4 over and wound up with a 76, her highest score of the week, to end her chances. She was at 4-over 223.
"It's sad to see the tournament go, and now I have to wait one more year," she said.
Annika Sorenstam probably doesn't have that luxury. The three-time Open champion is retiring at the end of the year, and she wasted another day filled with birdie opportunities by converting only two of them in a round of 72 that left her seven shots behind.
"I'm about to cry," she said. "When you do everything you can and then it just doesn't happen ... I cannot hit the ball any better. I cannot put myself in a better position. And I rally don't know what to do.
"I'm not giving up. I'm going to tell you that."