TEAM BOUCHER SURGES TO TOP
Boucher is the French word for Butcher, and playing as Team Boucher, the French team of Celine Boutier and Karine Icher cut right to the top of the leaderboard on Thursday.
After a 2-under 68 in Wednesday’s opening foursomes round, the duo combined for eight birdies in Thursday’s four-ball round at the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational to enter the third round tied for the lead at -10.
Despite the wind and tricky hole locations on Thursday, Icher was confident in their strategy partly because her partner rarely makes mistakes.
“The plan is to put always a ball in play, and then when you know you have a ball on the green, I mean the other one can go for it,” said Icher of their strategy for four-ball. “That's the goal of four-ball. And my partner is so like very accurate, it's so nice to rely on her because, you know, she's going to be in the middle. So then you can take a little bit more risk. It worked pretty good. We stayed patient pretty much the whole course. It's not an easy course. It was very windy today and tough pin positions.”
Each time one of them made a bogey, the other was in for at least par, and they finished with three straight birdies, including a long putt on 18 from Icher.
“I think overall it was a pretty good day,” said Boutier. “I feel like our games complement each other really well. When I was struggling a bit, she was there to save the team, and the opposite, so it was pretty good.”
FROM ROYAL PORTRUSH AND A KENYAN RESORT TO THE GREAT LAKES BAY REGION
With a lights-out 9-under 61 on Thursday, Stephanie Meadow and Giulia Molinaro vaulted up the leaderboard. Team M&M started the day in a tie for 12th after shooting 69 in Wednesday’s four-ball session. Meadow carded seven birdies and one bogey on Thursday to Molinaro’s four birdies, jumping the duo into a tie for the lead.
Molinaro gave the credit to Meadow’s hot putter, especially early in their round. “When one person's not playing well, the other person's going to pick up the slack,” said Molinaro, a born Italian who spent most of her life living on a Kenyan luxury resort before coming the United States at age 16.
This could line up to be an extra special week for Meadow, a native of Northern Ireland and a member of Royal Portrush Golf Club, the host of this week’s British Open. If she can’t be at her home course this week, at least she is tasting success in Michigan.
“It’s amazing to have the Open at Royal Portrush this year. It’s my home golf course and I wasn’t sure if we’d ever get it so it’s going to be spectacular to watch,” said Meadow, a graduate of the University of Alabama who now lives in Phoenix. “It’s a fantastic golf course. It’s got some amazing views. If the wind blows it’s going to play really tough.”
Both players are in search of their first career victories. Meadow would become the LPGA Tour’s first winner from Northern Ireland, while Molinaro would join Silvia Cavalleri (2007 Corona Championship) as the only Tour winners from Italy.
CREAMER AND PRESSEL PARTNERSHIP PAYS OFF IN ROUND TWO
Team Pink put on a clinic on their front nine during the second round of the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational. Paula Creamer and Morgan Presselbirdied six holes, finishing in a tie for first at -10. Nine straight pars on their back nine tested the patience of the dynamic duo, but Pressel said they still stuck to their strategy for the day.
“Our game plan for the whole day was two balls in play,” said Pressel. “Maybe a couple of holes we really did that well and that allows you to swing a little bit more freely and be more aggressive in best ball. I think we went at all the pins that we could, for sure.”
The friends said that this tournament feels like a preview for the Solheim Cup. Pressel, a veteran of five USA Teams, currently sits 27th on the U.S. Solheim Cup Team Rankings, with seven-time team member Creamer at 33rd. The U.S. Team will not be finalized until after the CP Women’s Open and while Solheim Cup points will not be awarded following this team event, Creamer said playing well the rest of the week is another opportunity to show Team Captain Juli Inkster they belong in Scotland come September.
“We would be lying if we weren't thinking about that. But we're a team, we're kind of a little package deal with that. When we're together, we always play really solid. That's why we've always had a very good record with that,” said Creamer. “You know what happens, happens. Tomorrow's not going to dictate that. We still have some events even after this one to try and get up there. But we're playing to win this week and whatever happens, happens.”
Rolex Rankings No. 298 Stephanie Meadow and No. 256 Giulia Molinaro (69-61)
- This is Meadow’s fourth season on the LPGA Tour; her best finish is solo third at the 2014 U.S. Women’s Open, in her professional debut and as a non-Member
- Meadow was a LPGA Tour rookie in 2015; after a stress fracture in her back derailed her career in mid-2017, she returned to the Symetra Tour for 2018, where she had one victory and regained her LPGA Tour card via the Volvik Race for the Card
- This is Meadow’s 16th event of the 2019 LPGA Tour season; her best finish is a tie for 11th at last week’s Marathon Classic presented by Dana
- Meadow won the LPGA Tour’s 2015 Heather Farr Perseverance Award in 2015; her father Robert was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer at the beginning of the season and Meadow left the Tour for three months to help care for him before his death in May 2015
- Meadow was a four-year First Team All-American for the University of Alabama from 2010-14
- Meadow grew up in Jordanstown, Northern Ireland, where she is a member of Royal Portrush Golf Club, this week’s British Open host course; she later attended the International Junior Golf Academy in Hilton Head Island, S.C., before attending college at Alabama
- Meadow represented Ireland at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil, where she tied for 31st
- This is Molinaro’s fifth season on the LPGA Tour; her best finish is a tie for eighth at the 2016 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship
- This is Molinaro’s ninth event of the 2019 LPGA Tour season; her best finish is a tie for 15th at the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic
- Molinaro was born in Italy and raised in Kenya before attending Arizona State University; she now makes her home in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Rolex Rankings No. 72 Celine Boutier and No. 315 Karine Icher (68-62)
- This is Boutier’s third season on the LPGA Tour; she won the 2019 ISPS Handa Vic Open and three other top-10 finishes
- This is Boutier’s 16th event of the 2019 LPGA Tour season; she won the ISPS Handa Vic Open and has two other top-10 finishes
- Boutier has two wins on the Symetra Tour and two wins on the Ladies European Tour
- Boutier is a 2016 graduate of Duke University; she was a two-time All-American and the 2013-14 National Player of the Year, and helped lead the Blue Devils to the 2014 NCAA Championship
- This is Icher’s 17th season on the LPGA Tour; her best finish is second at the 2005 Corona Championship, the 2013 CN Canadian Women’s Open, the 2016 Manulife LPGA Classic and the 2016 Citibanamex Lorena Ochoa Invitational
- This is Icher’s 13th event of the 2019 LPGA Tour season; her best finish is a tie for 35th in her last two events, the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic and the Marathon Classic
- Icher has five wins on the Ladies European Tour
- Icher is a four-time member of the European Solheim Cup team with a 7-5-2 overall record
- Icher’s husband Fred Bonnargent is her caddie this week and their daughters Lola (7) and Maya (7 months) spend their days at the Smucker’s LPGA Child Development Center
Rolex Rankings No. 157 Paula Creamer and No. 88 Morgan Pressel (66-64)
- This is Creamer’s 15th season on the LPGA Tour; she has 10 career victories, most recently at the 2014 HSBC Women’s World Championship
- This is Creamer’s 13th event of the 2019 LPGA Tour season; her best finish is a tie for eighth at the ShopRite LPGA Classic for Acer
- This is Pressel’s 14th season on the LPGA Tour; she has two wins, most recently at the 2008 Kapalua LPGA Classic
- This is Pressel’s 15th event of the 2019 LPGA Tour season; her best finish is a tie for third at the HUGEL-AIR PREMIA LA Open and she tied for sixth at the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give
- Creamer and Pressel have played in a combined 12 Solheim Cups; they have been paired together five times with a 2-2-1 record