Shanshan Feng must like Seaview's back 9, as she followed up yesterday's 32 there with a 31 today at the ShopRite LPGA Classic to help her become the only player to break 70 twice this week and get to -6 through 36 holes. Looks like her putter is heating up at the right time of the year, as next week is her title defense at the Wegmans LPGA Championship.
But there are plenty of golfers looking to deny Feng her 2nd career LPGA victory tomorrow. Matching her 67 today were Japan's Chie Arimura (who stayed 4 shots behind Feng while pulling within 1 shot of Rookie of the Year race leader Moriya Jutanugarn) and Karine Icher (who also matched Feng's back-9 31 to help her get to -1 for the week). Even closer are Jutanugarn (73), who hung in there in tough afternoon conditions to only fall back to -3, and Haeji Kang (69), who quietly slipped up the leaderboard in the morning and kept moving up in the afternoon to join Jutanugarn at T2, 1 shot ahead of Arimura and Anna Nordqvist (68). With Karrie Webb (69), Hee Young Park (72), Michelle Wie (73), and Amanda Blumenherst (75) joining Icher at -1, there are 10 golfers within 5 shots of the lead.
But for every golfer who played her way into contention on moving day, it seemed like there were 2 who moved backwards in a big way. Recent world #1 Stacy Lewis followed up yesterday's 67 with an 80 today, while Ji-Young Oh and Sara-Maude Juneau both went 69-79--and they all made the cut, which ballooned to +6. That saved the likes of Cristie Kerr, Paula Creamer, Juli Inkster, Pat Hurst, and Lizette Salas, just to name a few, but not Sandra Gal (78-71), Guilia Sergas (76-73), Catriona Matthew (75-74), Natalie Gulbis (73-76), Momoko Ueda (73-76), or Lorie Kane (72-77), not to mention the many golfers who did much worse, such as recent winners Ilhee Lee, Jennifer Johnson, and Suzann Pettersen and big American names like Morgan Pressel, Lexi Thompson, Angela Stanford, and Brittany Lang.
Given that so many 1st-round leaders fell back, the golfers who went low today made huge strides on the field. Marcy Hart's 69 moved her from T123 to T49, Ayako Uehara's 69 moved her from T76 to T19, Icher moved from T61 to T6, Arimura from T45 to T4, Jennie Lee from T45 to T11...heck, even Ya Ni Tseng--who finished bogey-par-double bogey but still shot 69, thanks to a run from the 18th hole to the 6th where she made an eagle and 5 birdies (along with a bogey)--moved from T61 to T15. In fighting back from +5 through her 1st 20 holes to +1 at the end of today's round, So Yeon Ryu made a move on the exact scale as Tseng's. Even more modest moves, like Mika Miyazato's and In-Kyung Kim's 70s that got them to E, moved them 16 slots up the leaderboard, while the same 70 from Jane Park meant she moved from T113 to T49.
What this means is that anything can happen tomorrow. If Feng can break 70 for the 3rd time in a row, the tournament will be hers, but if she falls back, there are 24 golfers within 5 shots of Kang and Jutanugarn at -3...even my fave Ai Miyazato is not yet out of this thing in that case!