Saturday, August 31, 2013

Safeway Classic Friday: Pornanong Phatlum Leads Suzann Pettersen, Caroline Masson, Sandra Gal

Pornanong Phatlum followed up Thursday's 64 with a bogey-free 66 yesterday at Columbia Edgewater to hold onto a slim lead on Suzann Pettersen, who pulled within a shot of her at the halfway point of the Safeway Classic on the strength of a bogey-free 63.  Pettersen's teammate from the Solheim Cup, Caroline Masson, also went low on Friday with a bogey-free 64 that brought her to -11, 1 behind countrywoman Sandra Gal, who matched Phatlum's bogey-free 66.  Amazing putting has been the theme that ties together the leaders, as Phatlum has only 48 putts in 36 holes, while Pettersen and Masson have only 52 (thanks to a 22-putt exhibition by Masson!), and even Gal has a respectable 58.

Others who went low on Friday include Hee-Won Han, whose 65 was marred only by a bogey on the par-4 17th, Na Yeon Choi, whose 66 included a walkoff bogey on the 9th, Chella Choi, whose only bogey came on the par-4 18th as she was about to make the turn, and Beatriz Recari, who got a 66 of her own despite bogeying both 9 and 18.  If Changkija and Chella Choi had been putting as well as NYC (52 putts) and Hee-Won Mom (54 putts), they'd be much higher up the leaderboard than they are now.  Changkija is "only" tied at -10 with Cristie Kerr and Lizette Salas, while Han and the Chois are at the head of a class at -8 that includes Juli Inkster, Karrie Webb, Ji-Yai Shin, Brittany Lang, and Natalie Gulbis.  Recari leads the -7ers, who include Stacy Lewis, Ai Miyazato, Morgan Pressel, Eun-Hee Ji, Mina Harigae, and Sydnee Michaels.

That leaves an intriguing trio at -9 to mention:  Lexi Thompson, who seems fired up by Lydia Ko's and Charley Hull's recent heroics; Se Ri Pak, who always seems capable of going low; and Ya Ni Tseng, who's put together 2 rounds in the 60s in a row for the 2nd week in a row (she had also done it the week before she started her 4-event missed cut streak that ended last week).

With defending champion Mika Miyazato and recent winner Hee Young Park barely making the cut at -2, In-Kyung Kim having to fight back to get to -3, and Anna Nordqvist only at -5, they'll have to go super-low on the weekend to have a hope of getting into contention.  But the leaders have shown it can be done.  Let's see what happens!

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