SMILE SAYS IT ALL FOR SAGSTROM
As soon as she walked out of the scoring hut, Madelene Sagstrom had a massive smile on her face. The reason is plainly evident on her scorecard, as the Swede sits tied for first and will play the final round of an LPGA Tour event for the first time in her three-year career.
“I literally have never rolled a putter better, probably,” said Sagstrom, who dominated the 2016 Symetra Tour to earn her LPGA Tour card. “My speed was phenomenal. I knew as soon as I was on the green that I had a birdie chance, which is an awesome feeling. I played very free. I was very accepting. I took my medicine when I needed to and I just stayed calm all day. It was just really nice to be out there.”
Sagstrom represented Europe at the 2017 Solheim Cup as a captain’s pick. A solid performance this week could boost her Rolex Women’s World Ranking status and pull her into contention for an automatic selection.
HSU DRIVEN BY 2018 SUCCESS
Wei-Ling Hsu enjoyed the best season of her LPGA Tour career in 2018, making 20 of 28 cuts and finishing 31st on the Official Money List. She not only earned her best career finish at the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic, where she finished second, but she notched best major finishes at the U.S. Women’s Open (T5) and The Evian Championship (15).
So far at The Grange, the native of Chinese Taipei has put together two consistently solid rounds to head into the weekend with the lead for the second time in her five-year career. She points to the takeaways of her 2018 success as what has driven her this week.
“I think just I learned a lot from that, like how to play under the pressure,” said Hsu. “That makes me like a little more stronger this year, more able to focus on my game. That's what I learned from last year.”
GREEN RETURNS TO SCENE OF EARLY 2018 SUCCESS
The 2018 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open marked Hannah Green’s second LPGA Tour event as a Member, and her week at Adelaide’s Kooyonga Golf Club was certainly one to remember. Playing in the final group, Green eventually finished third and quickly gained the invaluable experience of playing under difficult mental conditions. And the fact that it was in front of Aussie fans? That made the week that much better.
“Playing in the final group definitely will help me for this year's competition,” said Green, who finished fifth in the 2018 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year standings. “Hopefully on Sunday again I can be in that position. I guess because I'm playing at home and the crowds are rooting for the Australians, it's nice to have that. It might make people more nervous, but it kind of settles me to know that everyone's rooting for me.”
FIVE COUNTRIES REPRESENTED IN TOP FIVE
The top five players through 36 holes of the 2019 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open represent five different countries – Sweden (Madelene Sagstrom), Chinese Taipei (Wei-Ling Hsu), the United States of America (Nelly Korda), Japan (Haru Nomura) and Australia (Hannah Green).
Four of these countries – Sweden, the USA, Japan and Australia – have visited the LPGA Tour winner’s circle within the last two years. The last player from Chinese Taipei to win was Yani Tseng, whose last victory came in 2012.
Rolex Rankings No. 121 Madelene Sagstrom (67-67, -10)
- Sagstrom’s first- and second-round 67s are tied for the third-lowest rounds of her LPGA Tour career
- This is the first time in Sagstrom’s LPGA Tour career that she has led following any round
- She hit 10 of 14 fairways and 13 of 18 greens, with 27 putts
- Sagstrom is in her third LPGA Tour season; her best career finish is a tie for third at the 2017 Swinging Skirts Taiwan LPGA Championship
- Sagstrom is competing in her third ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open; she finished T30 in 2018 and missed the cut in 2017
Rolex Rankings No. 69 Wei-Ling Hsu (65-69, -10)
- Hsu’s 36-hole 134 is tied for the lowest 36-hole score of her LPGA Tour career; she previously shot a 134 at the 2015 Meijer LPGA Classic
- This is the second time in Hsu’s career that she has led through 36 holes, joining the 2018 Swinging Skirts LPGA Taiwan Championship
- She hit 11 of 14 fairways and 13 of 18 greens, with 28 putts
- Hsu is in her fifth LPGA Tour season; her best career finish is second at the 2018 Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic
- Hsu is playing in her fifth ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open; her best finish is T34 at Kooyonga Golf Club in 2018
Rolex Rankings No. 16 Nelly Korda (71-66, -7)
- Korda’s 36-hole 137 is tied for the second-lowest 36-hole score of her LPGA Tour career; she shot a 132 at the 2017 Marathon Classic, multiple 136s and one other 137
- She hit 14 of 14 fairways and 15 of 18 greens, with 27 putts
- Korda is in her third LPGA Tour season; she won the 2018 Swinging Skirts Taiwan LPGA Championship and has 13 top-10 finishes
- Korda is playing in her third ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open; she finished T40 in both 2017 and 2018
Rolex Rankings No. 164 Haru Nomura (70-67, -7)
- Nomura’s second-round 67 is her second-lowest round of her seven ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Opens; she shot a 65 in the fourth round of her 2016 victory
- She hit 10 of 14 fairways and 12 of 18 greens, with 26 putts
- Nomura is in her ninth season on the LPGA Tour; she has wins at the 2016 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, 2016 Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic presented by CTBC and 2017 Volunteers of America Texas Shootout presented by JTBC
- Nomura is playing in her seventh ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open; she won the 2016 tournament at The Grange Golf Club and finished T3 in 2017
Rolex Rankings No. 144 Hannah Green (68-69, -7)
- Green’ 36-hole 137 is the second-lowest 36-hole score of her LPGA Tour career; she shot a 136 at the 2018 Indy Women in Tech Championship
- She hit eight of 14 fairways and 13 of 18 greens, with 28 putts
- Green is in her second LPGA Tour season; her best finish is third at the 2018 ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open
- Green is playing in her fourth ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open; she finished T10 in 2016, T7 in 2017 and third in 2018
Defending champion Jin Young Ko is tied for 10th after an even-par 72 on Friday
Notables to miss the cut include major champions Lydia Ko, Georgia Hall, Mo Martin, Laura Davies, Brittany Lang, Yani Tseng, Pernilla Lindberg and Paula Creamer
Hee Jung Lim withdrew, citing a sprained ankle