Stacy Lewis couldn't quite match or surpass Jennifer Johnson's tournament record of 62 from yesterday's round on moving day today at the ShopRite LPGA Classic, but her bogey-free 63 got her to -12 through 36 holes and vaulted her 2 shots ahead of Johnson and 1 beyond Christina Kim. With 52 putts thus far this week, Lewis is wielding the hottest flat stick in the field and is poised to take a real run at world #1 Inbee Park, who birdied 5 of 7 holes as she made the turn from back 9 to front 9 to peak at -9 before bogeying 3 of her last 5 holes to finish at -6 (tied with Harukyo Nomura, who faded to a 73 today after opening with a 63 of her own). But Lewis will also have to contend with Anna Nordqvist, whose bogey-free 65 got her within 4 shots of the lead, tied with Gerina Piller at -8, as well as Haeji Kang, who also got to -9 late in her round but ended up needing a walkoff birdie to get back to -7.
Everyone else, it seems, will just be trying to pass as many people as possible with a good round tomorrow. Lewis is playing too well to open the door to someone like Julieta Granada, whose 66 today got her to -5, or Shanshan Feng, whose 65 got her to -3. As for stalwarts like Na Yeon Choi and Chella Choi, their even-par rounds left them at -5 and -4, respectively, seemingly too far back to make a real run at the top tomorrow. Meanwhile, youngsters like Kim Kaufman, Dori Carter, and Amy Anderson shot solid 69s (Anderson's featured the biggest comeback, with 5 birdies in her last 8 holes), but are also back in the -5 to -4 range. And big names like Karrie Webb and Michelle Wie (-3), Suzann Pettersen (-2), and Cristie Kerr (-1) will need to flirt with Annika's 59 to get in the mix tomorrow.
Others had to make great recoveries just to make the cut. Paula Creamer was +5 with 12 holes to play but 2 birdies and an eagle later and she ended up just on the right side of the cut line. Line Vedel birdied 3 of her last 4 holes and Ji Young Oh her last 3 holes in a row to join her. Lydia Ko started the day at -3 but bogeyed 4 holes in a 5-hole stretch early on the back (her front), then grinded her way back to E but took a triple on the par-4 4th and needed back-to-back birdies to make the cut on the number. Ai Miyazato birdied 2 of her last 6 holes to claw back to E for the week.
Others fell far but hung on. Ya Ni Tseng fought back to E early on but a double on the par-4 13th put her in danger of missing the cut and only a birdie on the par-4 16th kept her playing on Sunday. Lexi Thompson bogeyed 3 of her 1st 5 holes and another bogey on the par-3 11th also put her in danger of missing the cut, but a walkoff birdie kept her alive to play another day. Mika Miyazato birdied 5 of her 1st 12 holes to rise to -2, but 3 bogeys in her last 5 holes dropped her back to the end of the line of those playing tomorrow. Catriona Matthew was also -2 with 6 holes to play, but a double and a bogey later and she was counting herself lucky to just make the cut.
Some notables, though, were not quite so fortunate. So Yeon Ryu went bogey-bogey-double-bogey early on the back to fall to +5, but even though she birdied 4 of her last 10 holes, a bogey on the par-3 11th was enough to put her on the wrong side of the cut line. It's only her 3rd missed cut as an LPGA member. Se Ri Pak birdied her last 2 holes in a row, but she also ended up at +2 through 36 and won't go on for 54. Natalie Gulbis fought back from a double on her 33rd hole with back-to-back birdies to close out her round, but also fell 1 shot short. Pat Hurst recovered from a double early on the front with an eagle on 9 and 3 bogeys in a row late on the back with back-to-back birdies to finish her round, only to end up at +2, too. Lizette Salas bogeyed 4 of her 1st 11 holes to fall to +4 for the week, too much for her back-to-back birdies that closed out her round to make up for. Carlota Ciganda doubled 18 to miss the cut by a shot. And Nicole Jeray birdied 4 of her last 11 holes of bogey-free golf yet also missed the cut by the same margin.
Of course, everyone who missed the cut has a story, including established stars like Laura Davies, Jessica Korda, Eun-Hee Ji, Hee-Won Han, Seon Hwa Lee, Lorie Kane, Morgan Pressel, Angela Stanford, and Jeong Jang, and young hopefuls like Danielle Kang (WD), Tiffany Joh, Jennifer Song, and Jaye Marie Green. All of which helps to put the fantastic play of Lewis, Kim, and Johnson in a much better perspective. We'll have to wait and see if anyone can take a run at them from back in the pack or whether this will become a 2- or 3-player race to the finish!
[Update 1 (6/1/14, 8:54 am): IceCat followed Park, Creamer, and Ko and has great details on their 1st rounds over at Seoul Sisters.com.]