CAMBRIDGE, Ont. – Birdies were coming in bunches Friday as there was both a ’59 Watch’ and a tournament-record shot at Whistle Bear Golf Club during the second round of the Manulife LPGA Classic. But it was a Canadian who stole the show in her home and native land.
Alena Sharp, from nearby Hamilton, Ontario – about 45 minutes from Whistle Bear – fired a 6-under-par 66 Friday to tie for the lead with Hyo Joo Kim and Lexi Thompson.
Sharp managed to recover nicely from an early double bogey – and a lingering headache (she had to call in for some ibuprofen from the gallery) – with six birdies and an eagle on the day.
“I felt good starting the day,” said Sharp, who had a strong contingent of family following her all day. “I got up and had a nice little run. Just got the nervous energy out. Had a good warm up and just felt -- I don't know. This week has been different. I just walked up to the golf course yesterday and today just feeling like it was going to be a good day. Just had these good vibes coming out.”
Sharp called a penalty on herself on the par-5 3rd, which led to the double bogey.
“I had to call the rules official, because when I addressed my chip shot on No.3 the ball moved. I don't think I completely grounded my club, but the way the rule reads… I was going to ground my club and the ball moved, so (the rules official) said that because it wasn't sitting up on top of the grass it was probably likely that I caused it to move. Just a funny rule, but it's the rules of golf and I didn't want it just let that go,” she explained. “I needed to call it on myself, because I was going to be thinking about it all day. I thought I did the right thing. Went out and birdied the next hole and really just forgot about it. Just kept playing the way I was.”
Thompson, who is looking to become the first two-time winner on the LPGA Tour in 2017, said Whistle Bear suits her game. She fired a bogey-free 7-under-par 65 Friday.
“I’m playing very well so far. Overall just having fun on the golf course, staying very relaxed, and focusing on doing my routine,” said Thompson. “I played some great golf, so hopefully that will continue into the weekend.”
Early in the day there were fireworks, as Perrine Delacour shot a tournament record score on this course, a 10-under-par 62. She eclipsed the old record shot in 2015, a 63, by Cheyenne Woods, Cristie Kerr and P.K. Kongkraphan. She made four-straight birdies in the middle of her round, and the 62 was her lowest round on the LPGA Tour. She said the secret Friday was her putting, which was much improved over Thursday’s opener.
“I spent 20 minutes on the practice green yesterday fixing it,” she said. “Yesterday I hit like 17 greens and couldn’t make any putts. Then today I had really good putting.”
Lindy Duncan, a Duke University alum, was 10-under par through 13 holes – she shot a 7-under-par 29 on the front nine – and was threatening golf’s magic number with five holes to go.
“When I got to double digits I was like, ‘this is pretty awesome,’” she said. “I made a few birdies early on the back. I just kind of kept rolling with it. I wasn’t too concerned with it.”
However, a double-bogey and a bogey on her final two holes derailed her chances.
“That was a tricky pin position, maybe a little borderline. I left a tough putt three feet short and it was straight downhill. I hit what I thought was a pretty good putt and it touched the hole and went about 15 feet. It almost went off the green. It was just on a really -- you know, sloped and I think I hit it too hard. Then just missed that one,” she explained of what happened on the par-3 17th, leading to double-bogey. “And then on 18 I was under the lip (of the fairway bunker). So, two bad breaks, but a really good round.”
In Gee Chun – who has three runner-up finishes so far in 2017 – joined Duncan and Delacour at 11-under.
Shanshan Feng – who won two weeks ago at the Volvik LPGA Championship – Minjee Lee, and Bronte Law were one shot further back at 10-under.
Other than Sharp, Brittany Marchand (who plays on the Epson Tour full-time) and Brooke Henderson were the other Canadians to make the cut.
Henderson bounced back well from Thursday’s first round with a 5-under-par 67 on Friday. She said her performance Friday was exactly the kind of day she needed.
“Today I was able to get a few tap-in birdies that were only at three or four feet, and that gave me a lot of confidence. I felt like I could make any putt out there. I rubbed even more edges today, so it could have been a lower score, but I'm really happy with 5-under.”
Heading into Saturday, there are 18 golfers within four shots of the lead.