What HappenedIf the first round of the 2nd U.S. Senior Women’s Open Championship was a plodding walk, Friday’s second round was when the field’s biggest names got some pep in their steps. With one more day to get accustomed to the demands of the green complexes at scenic Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club, several of the game’s stars played their way into contention through 36 holes.
The leader at the halfway mark is Helen Alfredsson, of Sweden, who tied for sixth in this championship last year. Alfredsson, 54, shot a 2-under 69 Friday to stand at 2-over-par 144, one stroke clear of defending champion Laura Davies, of England. Alfredsson shared the game plan that is helping her chase what would be her first USGA title.
“I think you never get used to it here, but you kind of get more aware of what you have to do,” said Alfredsson. “You know you can't attack some of these pins, exactly, so you don't put yourself in compromising situations.”
Davies gained ground today with a 1-under 70 that was not quite as ho-hum as it may sound. The 55-year-old began her round with a birdie on the par-4 10th hole, but then stumbled. She made bogey on No. 13 and hit a shot out of bounds on the par-5 15th hole, leading to a double bogey, to slow her charge. But only temporarily. The 1987 U.S. Women’s Open champion brushed off the mistakes and carded three birdies over her last 10 holes, including one on the difficult par-4 18th hole.
“You can see the best players have kind of filtered up through the ranks,” said Davies. “You felt like you were a bit more in control today. Yesterday I never felt I had any control over the golf course at all.You can't relax, and I think that's the testament to this golf course, the design of this golf course. It doesn't give you a minute's peace.”
One stroke behind Davies at 4-over 146 is unheralded Lisa DePaulo, 53, who shot a 72 on Friday. It was a roller-coaster round for DePaulo, as she recorded six birdies, six pars, five bogeys and one double bogey. The University of Texas alumna and resident of Austin, Texas, kept things in perspective as she finds herself in the rarified position of contending in a major championship.
“I just want to keep getting a little better every day. I'm honing in on it,” said DePaulo, who is in the penultimate group with Juli Inkster for Saturday’s third round.
Inkster, a five-time USGA champion and the 2018 runner-up, rebounded nicely after a balky putting performance led to disappointing first-round 78. She put in extra time on the practice green late Thursday and it paid off, as she fired a bogey-free, 3-under 68 to put herself squarely in the mix to win a title she desperately wants to capture.
“I putted better today,” said Inkster. “I didn't have any three-putts, hit a lot of greens and gave myself a lot of opportunities. Didn't really cash in, but I felt like I rolled the ball better today.”
First-round leader Danielle Ammaccapane struggled to follow up the 72 she posted on Thursday. The 53-year-old double bogeyed her opening hole on Friday en route to a front-nine score of 4-over 39, and ended up at that number to shoot 4-over 75. She is still within striking distance of the leaders, however, tied for fifth at 5-over 147 with Jane Crafter, Barbara Moxness, Becky Iverson and Trish Johnson.
Johnson, who finished third in last year’s U.S. Senior Women’s Open, briefly held the lead on Friday after a birdie on the par-3 13th hole. The challenging closing stretch at Pine Needles jumped up and bit her, however, as Johnson bogeyed the 16th and 18th holes to shoot 72.
Eighty-year-old JoAnne Carner was unable to achieve her pre-championship goal of making the cut. The eight-time USGA champion shot an 85 on Friday, but was coy when asked if this was her last USGA championship appearance, stating “It’s just so much fun to play.”
Fifty-one players made the 36-hole cut, which came at 15-over-par 157. Saturday’s third round will be televised on FS1 from 3 to 5 p.m. EDT.
Saturday, May 18: Round 3 Tee Times
- Out of the eight U.S. Women’s Open champions in the starting field of 120, five made the cut: Davies (1987), Inkster (1999, 2002), Neumann (1988), Hollis Stacy (1977, 1978, 1984) and Jan Stephenson (1983). Additionally, Judith Kyrinis and Ellen Port, two of the three U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur champions in the field, will also be playing the weekend. The lone U.S. Senior Women’s Amateur champion to not make the cut is the reigning champion, Lara Tennant, who was also the low amateur in this championship last year.
- Five players have hit every fairway through two rounds, putting themselves in favorable position to hit approaches into Pine Needles’ sloping greens. Of the five players, four are in the top 22, led by Jane Crafter of Australia, who is tied for fifth.
- Donna Andrews, the head golf instructor at Pine Needles, is taking full advantage of her home course knowledge. The 52-year-old shot a 4-over 75 today and is tied for 22nd place at 11-over 153. Andrews, who has enjoyed enthusiastic support from the galleries, has already greatly improved on her showing in last year’s U.S. Senior Women’s Open at Chicago Golf Club, where she missed the cut.
- Helen Alfredsson (+2, 144):“I've tried to keep myself in good shape physically, and it helps, obviously, because I think most of us don't hang out walking. The golf cart is very easy except when I'm in Sweden, then we have to walk. So I do some walking in golf. But Florida, there is not a lot of walking. Thank God for these soft shoes now.”
- Juli Inkster (+4, 146):“[Her husband]Brian worked on my putting last night with me trying to smooth it out a little bit, kind of take the hit out of it a little bit, trying to roll it a little bit more, kind of get the feel back.”
- Jane Crafter (+5, 147):“You can never underestimate the value of competitive experience, and day-to-day playing. The last tournament I played in was the Senior LPGA in October. That's seven months ago. I mean, I'm delighted. I prepared as best I could.”
- Donna Andrews (+11, 153): “I know Ms. Bell is shining down on us. I think this is just a tribute to her because of all that she did for women's golf. That's why a lot of the players came to play was to honor Ms. Bell.”