A rookie, Holly Clyburn, and a 21 year vet, Catriona Matthew, will share the 36 hole lead at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.
“I think that’s the beauty of golf,” Matthew said. “You know you can play, it doesn’t matter what your age is really as long as you can still hit the golf ball and get it in the hole it doesn’t really matter. Age isn’t a barrier.”
Clyburn fired the round of the day with a 7-under, 65, to climb from a tie for 39th into a share of the lead heading into the weekend.
“I got off to a hot start,” Clyburn explained. “Started eagle, birdie so it was nice -- it was six under through nine and you have to settle yourself down because you can’t take anything for granted out there. And then to finish with a nice birdie on 18 was important.”
Matthew backed up an opening round 67 with a Friday 69 to join Clyburn at the top of the leaderboard.
“Yeah, I mean obviously delighted yesterday, 5 under in the wind,” Matthew said. “Today it was still breezy there in the morning so yep, pleased to have a lot of chances, missed a few putts which I should have holed but I’ll take eight under.”
The Women’s Australian Open is a special place for Matthew as she captured her first professional victory at the 1996 tournament.
“I remember it was myself and Lotte Neumann if I remember working it up there, just edged her out,” Matthew said of her memories from the 1996 win.
At 46, Matthew would become the second oldest winner in the history of the LPGA Tour which garnered the attention of a famous golfer who also won at the age of 46, Jack Nicklaus. “Hang in there and don’t give up, finish strong! Everyone wrote me off at 46!” Nicklaus tweeted at Matthew.
Matthew and Clyburn are being chased by Xi Yu Lin, Haru Nomura, Jenny Shin and Caroline Masson who sit a shot back. Local favorite and five time Australian Open champion Karrie Webb sits two back at 6-under.
Karrie Webb Moves Closer To The Top
Karrie Webb finds herself squarely in the mix at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open heading into the weekend sitting in seventh place.
“The course is challenging enough that you’re not going to go out there and shoot mid 60s every day,” Webb explained. "I just feel like I’m in a good position and I think Sunday is still forecast to be quite breezy and opposite direction wind, so it will be a challenging weekend.”
Webb had to grind out her second round 71 which featured a pair of birdies, a bogey and 16 pars.
“Yeah, I mean I really dug deep there for a couple of good pars, made some good par saves,” Webb said. “Like I said I wouldn’t say that I could have shot any better with the way I swung it.”
The LPGA Hall of Famer is going for her unprecedented sixth win at the event and 42nd title of her impressive LPGA Tour career in front of a raucous home crowd which lined the fairways all day.
Defending Championship Lydia Ko Hanging Around
Defending champion Lydia Ko currently sits in a tie for 11th entering the weekend at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.
“I feel like I’m in good position,” Ko said. “I reckon I could have cut a few more shots down but at the same time I think could have gone higher, so it all balances out. But you know being a couple or a few shots behind isn’t a bad position and there’s still 36 holes to be played”
It’s been a good week for Ko, who is coming off a victory at the SPS Handa New Zealand Open, as on Wednesday she was honored as New Zealand Sportswoman of the Year.
“Yeah that was pretty exciting to get the NZ Sportswoman of the Year especially as I’m contending against some of the greatest athletes and they’re excelling at their sport so it’s an honor to receive that award. “