MINJEE LEE MAKES MORNING CHARGE
Teeing it up at 7:55 a.m. this morning in rainy and windy conditions, Minjee Lee carded a bogey-free 65 in the second round and moved into a tie for second. The score, which was the previous tournament record before So Yeon Ryu’s 63 yesterday, was three shots better than any other score posted on Friday. Lee climbed back up the leaderboard after a disappointing finish to Thursday’s round of 73 in which she bogeyed three of her last four holes.
“I mean, yesterday I finished badly, but other than that, I was playing pretty well,” Lee said. “I was 2-under before then. I mean, I was just a little disappointed in how I finished. It wasn’t like I was hitting it bad going into yesterday. That’s what the score was. No, not really. I think I had it in me, just haven’t really brought it every week.”
Lee’s round was all the more impressive considering she played the majority of it in steady morning showers, something the afternoon golfers dealt with much less than the early starters. The Aussie was able to capitalize on her superb short game play and totaled just 26 putts while hitting 16 greens.
“Well, I just took advantage of the opportunities I had,” said Lee. “I had a couple of wedges into some of the par-4s, so on the back nine, which was my front nine, I had like three birdie chances that were, I don’t know, like five, six feet because I hit wedges in, and I just stayed patient. If I made a mistake, I tried to make up-and-downs, and I did today. Yeah, just chipped and putted well today.”
Currently ranked 12th in the Rolex Rankings, Lee is coming off of her first victory of 2016 after winning the LOTTE Championship in Hawaii last week. She is seeking to become the third player to reach two wins on the LPGA Tour this season, and the second player to win tournaments in back-to-back weeks (Lydia Ko, Kia Classic & ANA Inspiration).
“I think it’s, like you said, more momentum,” said Lee of her recent performance. “Every golfer has that sort of confidence that they can play out here because obviously we’re playing with the best in the world. Yeah, I mean, it’s just momentum. It’s just timing, I think. I came off a really great win last week, so I should have a lot of confidence and momentum coming into this week, too.”
AWKWARD SUPPORT FOR RYU
First-round leader So Yeon Ryu said following her tournament-record 63 yesterday that hearing overwhelming congratulations and support on social media left her a little bit uncertain. She said she’d rather have people congratulating her on Sunday rather than Thursday. Ryu followed her round of 63 with a 75 but kept herself in contention heading into the weekend.
“Well, it was kind of awkward feeling because it was only the first round, but everybody started to text me and Tweet about congratulations,” said Ryu. “Well, you know, it was good. It was a really good thing to have 63 the first round, but it was still not the end of the tournament, so I kind of like felt really weird, so I kept telling myself, okay, this is first round, tomorrow is a new day, new golf. So I really had to tell myself today was just totally new day. But always really good to have 63 the first round.”
CHOI BATTLES BACK, LITERALLY
Na Yeon Choi was able to bounce back after a few bogeys early in her second nine on Friday to finish in a three-way tie for second at 6-under for the tournament. Choi hung in and was able to shoot a 2-under 70 in the second round despite fighting some back pain, something she says plagues her when playing in colder conditions.
“Yeah, like honestly, I was a little worried about today before my tee off because of the weather, but luckily the afternoon group has better luck than other waves, I think,” Choi said. “A lot of bogeys out there, but I tried to hang in there until the last hole. I didn’t give up. That’s when I got four birdies on the back nine, and I feel good. I feel great about my game, and hopefully my back stays strong until Sunday because always like cold weather, it like bothers me. I need to keep warming up for my back before I tee off, and then hopefully I have a good result this week.”
Choi is aiming to post another strong result at Swinging Skirts where she finished in a tie for 11th in 2015. A win this week would be the 10th of her career and her first since the 2015 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. She has just one Top-10 finish so far this season (HSBC Women’s Champions).
CHEERS TO THE WEEKEND
The cutline fell at 4-over par 148 with a total of 81 players making the cut. The first major of the year, the ANA Inspiration, had a cutline of 2-over par. Notables to miss the cut: Paula Creamer (+6), Sei Young Kim (+6) and Alison Lee (+8).
“Yeah, I think this tournament is definitely one of the major quality golf courses. Yeah, if greens more firm and fast, it’s definitely like a U.S. Women’s Open. I’m always happy to be back at this golf course. To be honest I always enjoy playing challenging golf courses, which suits my game, so I cannot wait to play the next two days.” -So Yeon Ryu on the test of Lake Merced Golf Club
“I say I’ve made a fifth of a hole-in-one because -- I’m sure no player has said they’ve made a fifth of a hole-in-one. I was practicing and then I sliced one in the water, and I hooked one into a tree, and then obviously my next, third, tee shot is for 5, and it went in the hole. It was a good double.” -Lydia Ko after hitting the flagstick on the par 3 third hole on Friday and never making a hole-in-one
“In Phoenix, Nancy Lopez came up to me on the putting green, and she kind of gave me some words of wisdom and just kind of been texting me here and there, so it’s been pretty awesome, and just riding the momentum and just trying to keep myself in it every week, and hopefully I’ll be holding that trophy at the end of the week.” -Gerina Piller who has had three top-10 finishes in her last four starts
Joanna Klatten (severe headache) and Sydnee Michaels (sore back) both withdrew prior to the second round. Maude Aimee Leblanc and Mirim Lee withdrew during the second round and did not give a reason.