PEBBLE BEACH — Charley Hull stood on the 18th tee at Pebble Beach fully aware she needed a miracle. She’d been stomping on the accelerator all day, making birdie after birdie, flying up the leaderboard, but Allisen Corpuz — a few groups behind her — was still in command of the U.S. Women’s Open. If she wanted any chance at her first major championship, it was time to get extremely bold.

Hull teed up her ball, got one last nod from her caddie, and ripped a drive with everything left in her tank. It started a few yards right of the big cypress tree in 18 fairway and began to draw.

“Is that good?” Hull said, looking back at her caddie Adam Woodward.

“I think it’s perfect,” Woodward said.

It looked perfect from 270 yards away, but when Hull and Woodward reached the ball, they found it was anything but perfect. It was nestled a few feet from the roots of the cypress. She’d have to stand essentially under the branches of the tree. Hull, one of the game’s most colorful personalities, turned to Woodward with a smile.

"You know the saying: ‘Shy kids don't get sweets,’” she said. “I'm down three, have to go for it, right?"

They pulled 3 wood. Hull, who frequently has trouble staying focused on the course, steeled herself for the moment. She wiggled her feet, took two final looks at the green, and uncorked a laser. For a brief moment, it looked reminiscent of Tiger Woods’ famous 3 wood in 2010 on Saturday of the U.S. Open. Hull quickly ducked down beneath the branches before she took off running to watch the ball pierce through the air in the direction of the green. You could hear a gasp from the crowd while the ball was still in the air.

It wasn’t meant to be. The ball curved left, and trundled into the left bunker. Hull slashed a bunker shot to 10 feet, but her birdie putt missed by a few inches. “I thought I had my putt on the last, but I don't know, it was a good try. Just died on me.”

An electric run — a final round 66 — had come to an end.

“I’m not playing for second place,” Hull said, when asked about the decision. Did she even remotely hesitate? She laughed. “No. At home, I always play the aggressive shot. It’s paid off once in a while.”

Paying off this time would have meant a coveted first major title. And it’s not for a lack of trying. The 27-year-old has won twice on the LPGA, made five Solheim Cup teams and represented her country in the Olympics. A major is the one thing that has eluded her. But her best damn try came in the form of a final round 66.

Two missed cuts entering the week, including one at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, provided a much-needed wake up call. She spent the week preceding the U.S. Women’s Open and its practice rounds diligently working with her swing coach: “Taking it back more closely. A bit more around my body. Adding more compression to the golf ball.”

But before she even said anything, a whole round of body language completely gave the overthinking away. She fidgets in her pre-shot routine, taking various looks before committing to whatever given shot. A lack of hesitation on the gutsy tee shot on 18 proved quite the juxtaposition. But really, that’s the most sincere version of herself.

The fire began early in her round on No. 2, the 518-yard par 5, when she holed a 3-foot eagle putt after hitting a 278-yard drive and a 241-yard approach shot.

“If I want something, I’ll go and get it,” Hull said.

It was go time. She’d play the next four holes in 3-under, and became Allisen Corpuz’s biggest threat to her own first major championship.

“I quite enjoy chasing someone because you got to make birdies and you got to make a move up that leaderboard,” Hull said.

One eagle and six birdies made Hull the scariest person in the field. The round had Corpuz’s caddie looking over his shoulder after his player made the turn. “I saw people were making a push,” he said, referring to Hull.

Had Hull birdied 18, and had Corpuz had a few more blemishes, a tale of two contrasting golfers and personalities would have come to fruition: Hull, a brash, apex predator versus Corpuz, a low-key, conservative player. Instead, Corpuz separated herself from the pack in playing some of her best golf in the 2023 U.S. Women’s Open to keep Hull further and further away.

But not for long.

“I feel really confident,” she said. “(I) can’t wait for the Evian Championship.”