Defending Champion Jang moves up the leaderboard
Ha Na Jang, who won the HSBC Women’s Champions a year ago, and, won last week’s ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, fired a 5-under-par 67 Friday to move into contention.
Jang, who’s round was highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 5th and featured no bogeys, said defending a title this week for the first time was definitely a different feeling.
“It’s a different golf course though. Not much pressure, just simple,” she explained. “Feels like a new golf course and a new tournament. It’s (been) pretty easy.”
Jang admitted that Thursday’s opening round was ‘tough’ but with no bogeys on the card Friday, she said it was a much better day. She sits tied for seventh heading into the weekend.
“It was a really great round today,” she said. “Bogey-free today. It was a perfect, awesome day.”
Jang made headlines – and a little history on social media as well – last year thanks to her Beyoncé-inspired dance to celebrate her victory. She’s staying mum this year as to whether or not she’ll bring out some similar (or different) moves if she manages to defend her title saying, when asked, that it’s “top secret.”
“We’ll see on Sunday,” she said with a smile.
World No.1 Lydia Ko finishes with three straight birdies
Lydia Ko followed-up Thursday’s 69 with a second-round 68 to sit at -7, tied for seventh at the New Tanjong Course at Sentosa Golf Club.
Her round featured an eagle on the par-5 5th, and three-straight birdies on No’s 16-18 to finish her day.
“I hit it close on 16, which was actually my first birdie of the day. I really wasn’t expecting it to go in on 17, because it was a long left-to-right putt, kind of down the hill. I was trying to lag it down there, but ended up lagging it in the hole, which is never a bad thing,” she said with a smile. “It’s always nice to end with a birdie as well, no matter what you’ve shot.”
Ko trails leader Inbee Park by three shots heading into the weekend, one of whom includes No.2 on the Rolex Rankings Ariya Jutanugarn. Even with a Jutanugarn victory, though, Ko will remain atop the rankings after this week.
Suzann Pettersen’s birdie barrage moves her up the leaderboard
Suzann Pettersen made seven birdies Friday – including three in a row on the back nine – to fire a 5-under-par 67, matching the round of the day, and move her into a tie for fifth.
“The game is in really good shape. I putted a lot better than yesterday. Gave myself the same kind of looks, so, 5-under, two shots better than yesterday,” she said. “Just very glad with where my game is at.”
Although Pettersen had a blistering start, she admitted she had a ‘lousy’ finish, where she made bogeys on two of her final four holes.
“On 17, that was just a poor swing. On 15, I three-putted off the fringe,” she explained of her blemishes. “Other than that, the game is in good shape.”
Pettersen explained that for her to keep pace with the leaders, she will need to take advantage of more opportunities.
“I’ve just got to keep hitting greens. I felt like I had equally as many opportunities yesterday, but just didn’t capitalize on any of them,” she said. “Eight-under through two rounds, yeah, that’s good. Wish I could take back some of those dropped shots, but I’m going to have more opportunities this weekend.”
Ariya Jutanugarn eager for final-round pairing Saturday
World No.2 Ariya Jutanugarn can’t wait for Saturday’s final group with Inbee Park, as Park is someone the 21-year-old looks up to, and clearly, they had a nice round together Friday as well.
Park, who is returning from a collection of injuries in 2016 (despite much success as well), leads Jutanugarn (and Michelle Wie and Mi Jung Hur) by one shot heading into the weekend in Singapore.
“I have so much fun playing with Inbee because she inspires me a lot,” said Jutanugarn. “Like when I play with her, even before, I feel I try to be better golfer.”
Jutanugarn made five birdies Friday offset by a lone bogey on the par-4 9th. She explained her game plan going into the weekend will remain the same as it’s been the first two days.
“I try to be aggressive every day. So tomorrow I think the plan going to be the same,” she said. “So, not really worry about like today too much.”
Paula Creamer credits off-season work for her good start in Singapore
By her own admission, Paula Creamer was not pleased with how 2016 went.
But after lots of hard work both on her game and in the gym, her play has turned around for the better this week in Singapore, at an event she’s had success at in the past. The HSBC Women’s Champions in 2014 was her last LPGA Tour victory.
“I was not pleased with the way I played last year, but I made a lot of changes and we knew that. Going into this off-season, we knew that it was going to be a grind,” said Creamer. “I feel really good. I’m so much stronger. I changed my workouts, and it’s all kind of just coming together.”
Creamer sits tied for 13th after a five-birdie, three-bogey 70 on Friday.