Her facial expression didn’t offer much, but Allisen Corpuz was grateful. On Friday, she made her first mistake in the U.S. Women’s Open, a costly three-putt on 11, but a steady par on 12 made it seem like a blip. Corpuz wasn’t paying attention to scoreboards, but her steady play had quietly moved into a tie for third. She was ready to press on.

Until her tee shot minutes later, which she dumped in the left fairway bunker on 13. Now it seemed like her mistakes might be compounding.

“I've actually been hitting that one right all week, so today I was just like, I want to hit (the) left center of the fairway,” Corpuz said. “Unfortunately, turned it over a little too much.”

There’s usually very little to glean emotionally from watching Corpuz play a round of golf. She and her caddie, Jay Monahan (no, not that one), maintain a subdued, even-keel synergy. You can spot an occasional fist bump or smile – but calm, cool and collected is generally the vibe.

That mistake, however, prompted a visibly rare moment of frustration. She stepped off the tee box, clenched her teeth and held onto her driver, attempting to correct her motion for a few seconds before accepting the consequences.

Once she and Monahan arrived at the scene of the crime, there was little discussion about what she should do. She pitched out with her second shot, but still had 88 yards to go. The margin for error was quickly increasing.

Corpuz refused to overthink it. She got her number, stood over the ball, drew the club back, and flushed it.

The ball landed five feet from the pin. Another indispensable par.

Corpuz’s game is rarely provocative or flashy, nor does it lend itself to the kind of birdie heroics that fill up highlight reels. But her smart, conservative play is reflective of the kind of player she is. Pebble Beach has platformed that. If you want to understand why she has a great chance to win her first major championship today, start here: She is someone whose golf is greater than the sum of her parts.

Other than, ironically, her driving accuracy (she ranks 3rd), her stats this year aren’t necessarily eye-catching – a likely part of why she was left out of the conversation.

“I honestly still need to get a little more comfortable, I think, in contention,” she said after her round on Friday vaulted her to second – where she remains heading into the final round. “So that's really been the focus this year, just really trying to put myself into that spot and then hopefully learn how to convert as it keeps happening.”

Lurking around at the Chevron Championship earlier in the year gave her a taste of it, but she faded out on the final day. A venue like Pebble Beach has given her the freedom to embrace who she is more than ever. Her brilliant irons and touch around the greens aren’t necessarily the flashiest, but shots like that par save have stacked up. It’s kept her in the hunt, all while flashier players have been blown out to sea.

Such a command didn’t reveal itself immediately. When she finished her first practice round, Corpuz was admittedly intimidated. She thought par would be a good score. After rounds of 69-70-71, she trails only Nasa Hataoka, producing arguably the most consistent threat to the U.S. Women’s Open – and shocking herself in the process.

It’s not the first time Corpuz has surprised herself.

The Hawaii native, who played six USGA championships before she took her talents to USC, has been an artist on po annua grasses for years. She famously broke fellow Punahou School alum Michelle Wie West’s record as the youngest player to qualify for the U.S. Amateur Public Links and enjoyed a standout AJGA career.

But for as quickly as she broke out on the scene, the self-belief in her own game lent itself to a slower pace. “She was a quiet freshman,” said Stew Burke, who was an assistant coach at the University of California during Corpuz’s career.. “She was a good player, but she hadn’t found the belief and identity in her game she was capable of.”

Top fives were common, and team wins were plentiful – but she struggled to break through in capturing a win of her own. Her senior year, thoughts of not pursuing a professional career began to percolate in her brain. But a “why not” realization struck her. “I figured I could always decide to drop the clubs, but it would be harder to pick them back up,” she said.

Then came the college wins – two, to be exact, and a Masters in Supply Chain Management. After wrapping up a fifth year at USC, she wanted to keep her amateur status on the potential of making the Curtis Cup team, so she again delayed turning pro. She made the Curtis Cup and ended up sweeping all her matches. Her confidence began to build. Four months later, after three grueling stages of LPGA Q-School, Corpuz earned full LPGA status on her first try.

“I came out knowing I’m good enough,” she said minutes after getting her card.

That propelled her into a solid rookie season, where she made 17 cuts in 21 events and finished 41st in the Rolex Rankings. Her expectations were mild – and she surpassed them, calling the season “way more fun than she expected.” Along the way, she began to find her voice away from the golf course. In 2023, she was the only player on the LPGA to pen a lengthy statement speaking out against the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Many players later shared a similar, templated sentiment, but ultimately, Corpuz was the only player to pen her own reflection. The same fearlessness was now being reflected in her play as a professional athlete – a scenario that almost never came to fruition.

There’s little evidence on the results side to suggest Corpuz would be here. But that subtlety may be her greatest superpower. In her press conferences, she’s quick to explain her processes and background – but never gets ahead of herself, unless prompted. She is measured but never rushed. In control, but rarely effusive.

At this point, Allisen Corpuz winning the U.S. Women’s Open wouldn’t surprise anyone.

Except maybe herself.

“I don't even think I could put it into words,” she said.