Friday, July 6, 2012

U.S. Women's Open Friday: Pettersen Takes the Lead as Michelle Wie Leaps into Contention with a 66

It's hard to imagine Suzann Pettersen shooting a sizzling 68 at Blackwolf Run to take sole possession of the lead at the halfway point of the U.S. Women's Open and getting overshadowed, but that's exactly what happened today when Michelle Wie fired a 66 out of nowhere to jump into contention.  Heading into the weekend, Pettersen leads Wie and Cristie Kerr by a shot, followed by Inbee Park, Sandra Gal, and Vicky Hurst at -3, Mika Miyazato and Lizette Salas at -2, and Na Yeon Choi, Lexi Thompson, Nicole Castrale, and Ilhee Lee at -1.

Between the feel-good story of rookie Salas making good, the roller-coaster round of Lexi Thompson (bouncing back from her 2 doubles with at least one birdie after each, salvaging a bogey out of what could have been a huge number on the par-4 3rd, and making about half a dozen putts from the 15-to-25-foot range), the can't-buy-a-putt rounds of Ai Miyazato and Paula Creamer, Morgan Pressel's horrendous day (she withdrew with thumb pain 2 shots after taking a 10 on the 14th hole, the last straw after making 4 doubles in her previous 11 holes), and the shots of 13- and 14-year-olds finishing out their rounds, the otherwise-excellent ESPN announcing team somehow never saw fit to mention the following important stories from the morning wave:

  • Ya Ni Tseng hung in there with an even-par 72 to stay at +2 (T29), but it could have been a much-better round, as she finished with 3 bogeys in her last 5 holes.
  • Stacy Lewis kept her USWO hopes alive with a 13-fairway, 16-green, 4-birdie 69 to join Tseng 7 shots out of the lead with 36 holes to go.
  • Melissa Reid showing amazing resilience by going 79-69 to move up to T45, mere weeks after the tragic loss of her mother in a car accident in Germany.
But there's still more:  Pornanong Phatlum joined the under-70 club this week with a fine 69 that moved her up to +1 (T17), in the company of, among others, Sakura Yokomine (70), So Yeon Ryu (71), Amy Yang and Jeong Jang (72), Se Ri Pak and Hee Kyung Seo (73), and Beatriz Recari (75).  Teenager Lydia Ko made a strong bid for low amateur with a 72 of her own that kept her at +2, along with Tseng, Lewis, Creamer, Azahara Munoz, Anna Nordqvist, and Angela Stanford.  Karrie Webb (72) and Brittany Lang (74) at +3 made it to weekend play, along with Reid, Danielle Kang (70), Mina Harigae (71), Sun Young Yoo and Carlota Ciganda (72), Katherine Hull (73), and Shanshan Feng (75) at +4 and Ji-Hee Lee (70), Meena Lee (78), and Brittany Lincicome (80) at +5.  Not so fortunate were In-Kyung Kim, Mindy Kim, and Kyung Kim (+6), Hee-Won Han, Candie Kung, Catriona Matthew, Mi Jung Hur, and Julieta Granada (+7), Christina Kim, Momoko Ueda, and Seon Hwa Lee (+8), Hee Young Park, Maria Hjorth, and Cheyenne Woods (+9), and many others who didn't even get that close.

Me, I'm almost as surprised by Vicky Hurst's strong play as by Michelle Wie's, but I'm even more pleased to see both Miyazatos firmly in the hunt.  With 16 players at E or better and within 5 shots of lead, it's still anyone's ballgame.  I expect to see them go out in pairs tomorrow, although with 65 players making the cut I wonder how they'll handle the odd number.  Going to play with my dad early tomorrow to miss as much heat as possible and recover in time to watch the LPGA on NBC!

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