05 Jun 2021 | Professional golf |
Work ahead of Aussies in San Fran
by Mark Hayes
Minjee Lee and Hannah Green are left to fly the Aussie flag at the US Women’s Open this weekend – but it’s a long way from prominent at halfway.
Lee uncharacteristically mustered just one birdie on the Olympic Club’s testing Lake Course in San Francisco, but hung tough to card a second consecutive two-over-par 73 to sit four over.
Fellow West Australian Hannah Green endured a bit of everything in round two, including two double-bogeys in cold conditions.
But her 75 left her right on the cut line at six over, putting her in the second group out tomorrow on day three.
As bleak as that might sound, though, she’s still just 12 shots from the lead held by young Filipino Yuka Saso, a non-member of the LPGA Tour in just her second major championship.
Saso, 19, followed her first-round 69 with a brilliant four-under 67, tied for the second-lowest round of the day, with six birdies and two bogeys to reach six under.
Saso only hit six fairways, but used her strength to her advantage, powering out of the tall grass with a very simple mentality.
“If I go in the rough, my mindset is just to go for the fairway,” said Saso, who’s had just 53 putts through two rounds.
“It's really long and like sticky, so yeah, it's really hard to get on (the green) from it. But yeah, I'm glad that I'm a little bit good out of it.”
A Saso victory, while a long way from sealed, would mark the third consecutive year with a non-member taking a major title, following A Lim Kim (2020 US Women’s Open), Sophia Popov (2020 AIG Women’s Open) and Hinako Shibuno (2019 AIG Women’s Open).
Jeongeun Lee6, Korea’s 2019 US Women’s Open champ, enjoyed a late flurry of birdies at 15, 16 and 17 to earn solo second at five under with her own 67, one behind the day’s best round of American youngster Sarah Burnham. Lee6 is followed by sixth-year LPGA Tour player Megan Khang and amateur Megha Ganne in a tie for third at four under.
Ganne, a 17-year-old high school student who was tied for the lead after 18 holes, carded an even-par 71 on Friday and is revelling in her new-found spotlight, even getting a Twitter shoutout from the governor of her native New Jersey.
“I wish every event I had a gallery watching me because it just makes me play better, I think,” said Ganne. “And I love being in the spotlight, so it's been really fun.”
With a second-round 69, Inbee Park set the championship record for the most sub-par rounds with 25. She had previously been tied for first with two other greats of the game in Beth Daniel and Betsy King.
Park, the reigning Women’s Australian Open and Olympic champion, moves to the weekend at two under, tied for seventh with fellow major champions Lexi Thompson and Ariya Jutanguarn.
“There aren't that many holes that I can actually make a birdie on this golf course,” said Park, who won the US Women’s Open in 2008 and 2013.
“I really tried to take advantage of the par-fives when I hit the short irons, which I did.”
The other Aussies in the field couldn’t any momentum.
Sarah Jane Smith had two late birdies to close at +10, alongside fellow Queenslander and debutant amateur Emily Mahar who impressively made three birdies today en route to a 74.
New South Welshwoman Sarah Kemp couldn’t maintain her recent exemplary form and battled to a 79 and +15 total.
A Lim Kim finished at seven over and became the first defending champion to miss the cut since Sung Hyun Park in 2018.
Other notables who did not reach the weekend include U.S. Women’s Open champions Park (+8), Paula Creamer (+9), Brittany Lang (+9), Cristie Kerr (+10) and Michelle Wie West (+12), as well as Shibuno (+7) and Popov (+8). Nelly Korda shot +11 to also head home early.
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