Ai Miyazato birdied 3 of her last 5 holes to get to -11 in the CN Canadian Women's Open, but was still caught by Angela Stanford, who fired a bogey-free 31 on the back after making her only bogey of the tournament on the par-4 9th. Both players putted the lights out, as Miyazato hit 12 greens and had 26 putts, while Stanford hit 13 and took only 24.
They'll have to keep it up to remain ahead of the resurgent Song-Hee Kim and Seon Hwa Lee, who have also found their putting strokes this week. Kim took only 28 putts in her 68, while Lee needed only 25 during her bogey-free 65. Kim's only bogey of the week came at a bad time, however, as it dropped her back to -9, while Lee leads a host of golfers at -8, including defending champion Michelle Wie, yesterday's co-leader Pernilla Lindberg, Futures Tour stalwart Gerina Piller, and a few golfers you've probably never heard of like Paula Creamer, Brittany Lincicome, Sophie Gustafson, and Becky Morgan (who's hoping to impress Team Euro Solheim Cup captain Alison Nicholas over the weekend). In fact, the leaderboard is clogged with no-names, with Cristie Kerr, Ji-Yai Shin, Na Yeon Choi, and Jenny Shin 4 off the pace, In-Kyung Kim, Sun Young Yoo, and Mi Hyun Kim 5 back, and Brittany Lang, Hee Young Park, Maria Hjorth, Catriona Matthew, Karen Stupples, Caroline Hedwall, Tiffany Joh, and Jennifer Johnson lurking 6 shots behind the co-leaders.
Along with Lee's 65, Stanford and Piller's 66s, and Shin and Morgan's 67s, Meena Lee dropped an 8-birdie 66 on the field, and Mina Harigae, Jennifer Johnson, and Kris Tamulis fired 67s. All told, however, there are only 10 players who have shot in the 60s both rounds. It'll be interesting to see who among them can keep it going over the weekend, and who else will be able to make it 3 of 4 sub-70 rounds.
Unfortunately, we already know that last week's winner Suzann Pettersen won't be one of them, as she's the biggest name to miss the cut. She's in good company, as many very good golfers couldn't get to or stay in red figures over the 1st 36 holes, including Amy Yang, Hee Kyung Seo, Se Ri Pak, Grace Park, Candie Kung, Katherine Hull, Inbee Park, Eun-Hee Ji, Jee Young Lee, Shanshan Feng, and much-hyped young Americans Lexi Thompson, Jessica Korda, and Ryann O'Toole. Meanwhile, O'Toole's fellow captain's pick for the U.S. Solheim Cup team, Vicky Hurst, clawed her way back to the right side of the cut line with a 69 that got her to -1, tied with teammates Morgan Pressel and Christina Kim and living legends Karrie Webb and Laura Davies and only 1 shot behind world #1 Ya Ni Tseng. It's really odd that so many players who have been struggling this year would be taking advantage of the benign scoring conditions while long hitters like Pettersen, Yang, and Tseng have been bedeviled by Hillsdale, but that's golf.
Me, I'm curious to see if Piller, who's been bombing it out there all week and playing the back great, can get off to a good start today as she plays with Becky Morgan in the 3rd-from-last pairing of the day. But there are so many great groups to keep an eye on tomorrow, not least the Mika Miyazato-Moira Dunn one at 10:48 am and the Stacy Lewis-Katie Futcher one at 11:28. When you get to the afternoon, however, they really get compelling. Take a look at the best:
12:00 pm: Hee Young Park, Maria Hjorth [huge roller-coaster potential]
12:16: Karen Stupples, Caroline Hedwall [potential Team Euro captain's picks]
12:24: Brittany Lang, Tiffany Joh [potential future Team USA teammates]
12:48: In-Kyung Kim, Sun Young Yoo [looking to kick their seasons up a notch]
1:04: Cristie Kerr, Na Yeon Choi [still without wins this season, both Pettersen victims]
1:12: Ji-Yai Shin, Pernilla Lindberg [among Korea and Sweden's finest, but struggling in '11]
1:20: Paula Creamer, Michelle Wie [largest gallery of the day?]
1:36: Brittany Lincicome, Sophie Gustafson [long-driving contest, anyone?]
1:52: Song-Hee Kim, Seon Hwa Lee [time to put their slumps firmly behind them]
2:00: Ai Miyazato, Angela Stanford [how low can they go?]
Lots of great notes and interviews at LPGA.com for you to check out before the mid-afternoon coverage begins today. Like Michele Redman the week before, Sherri Steinhauer decided to retire from competitive golf mid-season. Congratulations to them both on impressive careers and best of luck in their future endeavors!
I'll leave you with a link to a great fan diary by sometime-commenter Canadian Glen and blog post by bangkokbobby! Got Japanese school for the girls and then a birthday party, so I'll be late again with my moving day post.