Lee-Anne Pace has won 8 times on the LET and she looked comfortable playing in the group ahead of 1st- and 2nd-round leader Laura Diaz today at the Marathon Classic. She went out bogey-free in 32 and bounced back from a pair of early bogeys on the back with 3 birdies in her last 6 holes to post a 68 and catch Diaz at -11. The 39-year-old mother of 2 followed up a birdie on the par-4 3rd with a double on the par-4 4th, but hit the short 9th with her drive and sank the 12-foot eagle putt to return to -12. However, she bogeyed the par-4 12th and couldn't find the hole coming in, ultimately failing to take advantage of moving day.
Plenty of other golfers did, though, and the co-leaders have plenty of company. Jaye Marie Green found the form that had her setting records at least year's Q-School as she fired a 9-birdie 63 to move to -10. So Yeon Ryu had nothing going until the end of the day, when she just missed making her 4th birdie in a row on the final hole for a 68 to join Green 1 shot off the lead. Lydia Ko made 3 birdies in her last 6 holes to salvage a 70 and move 2 behind Diaz and Pace. Women's British Open champion Mo Martin shot her 2nd 67 of the week to move to -8. She's joined by Cristie Kerr, who birdied 5 holes between 9 and 16 but failed to birdie the par-5 17th and bogeyed the par-5 18th; Brittany Lang, who hung in there for a 69; Katherine Kirk, who rode the roller-coaster for a 7-birdie 68; and college rivals Austin Ernst (66) and Brooke Pancake (67), who each hit 16 greens and made only 1 bogey each all day. The 2nd-best round of the day belonged to Kris Tamulis, whose bogey-free 64 lifted her into a tie at -7 with rookies Mirim Lee and Kelly Tan (who both shot 68s), youngsters Caroline Hedwall and Kayla Mortellaro (69s), and veterans Candie Kung and Lindsey Wright (also 69s).
And that's not all! Ai Miyazato shot a bogey-free 67 sparked by 4 birdies on the back 9 for the lowest score she's shot since the final round of the ShopRite Classic on September 1st last year. After a 2014 that has gone from mediocre to bad to worse, this is now the 2nd week in a row that she finds herself within sight of the leaders through 54 holes. Tomorrow is going to be very important for her. But it's going to be just as important for everyone else at -6. Brittany Lincicome (69) also needs to jump-start her year, while Marina Alex (69) and Rebecca Lee-Bentham (72) need to move up the money-list.
You don't start to see names as big as Ryu, Ko, and Kerr until you get to -5, with world #1 Stacy Lewis and 7-time LPGA winner Na Yeon Choi shooting 68s and not even having the most impressive rounds of the bunch, as Meena Lee fired a 66 and Pat Hurst and Kim Kaufman 67s. Lexi Thompson also shot a 66 to get to -4, where she is joined by Moira Dunn, Christina Kim, Kristy McPherson, Jenny Shin, Pernilla Lindberg, and Marissa Steen. Shin's 67 was matched by Chella Choi, Tiffany Joh, and Amelia Lewis, who at -3 will need to go off tomorrow to have a chance.
Bottom line: given the super-low rounds we've already seen this week and even lower ones that we know are out there from previous years at Highland Meadows, this is really anyone's tournament. I'm looking forward to watching the action after I try to find my touch in the 2nd round of the Utica City Amateur. Diaz still has a chance to go wire-to-wire this week, but probably 40+ other players will be going to bed tonight with dreams of taking the title away from her.