For the second consecutive day, Patty Tavatanakit settled any major championship nerves to hold the ANA Inspiration lead after a second-round 69 to sit at -9 overall. The 2010/21 Tour rookie, who holds a 36-hole lead for the first time in her career, rebounded from a bogey on her first hole (No. 10) with a slam-dunk eagle on No. 15 followed by a birdie on No. 16 to pick up momentum making the turn.
“It was a little -- the wind was a little off the right. I've got 115 to the hole I think and the pin was pretty front. I only have five on, so -- and it was kind of windy. The greens are firm, so I wasn't going to play the short number, the front number. So I told my caddie, I was like, I'm just going to hit like a 107 shot. Everything is going far right now. It's probably going to land a little further, which it did, and just slam dunk in there. It was really good shot, a little bit of a draw spin in,” said Tavatanakit of the eagle. “I could feel it like moving right to left and towards the hole. I looked good and then I heard like (making noise) and it was a good feeling.”
Tavatanakit went on to birdie holes 2 and 4 but struggled with her putting on No. 7 as the winds picked up on Friday evening. Settling for two pars to close out the day, Tavatanakit said she’s up for the challenge of contending for her first LPGA Tour title.
“(I’m) pretty confident, but nothing too, you know, getting ahead of myself. I don't want to do that. That's a red flag right there. You don't want to be -- that to be in good position on the weekend,” said Tavatanakit, who won three times on the Epson Tour in 2019. “Just keep doing what I'm doing and stay patient, stay with the present. I been doing that pretty well today. Just listening to different kind of sounds out there and just being in my own world.”
Close behind is Shanshan Feng after a second-round 69 to sit in solo second at -8. Feng persisted through a roller-coaster of a front nine, carding four birdies and three bogeys before making the turn. Staying patient turned out to be the key for the two-time major champion, who closed with birdies on Nos. 17 and 18.
“I didn't really expect myself to shoot a bogey-free round yesterday, so I expect on this course, especially my first tournament coming back, I am going to have some mistakes. And so, you know, I just missed a few fairways and few up and downs and so I made some bogeys. I was very like fine with it because I expected it,” said Feng. “But I felt really happy that after that, I mean, I started to hit more fairways on the back, so be able to hit more greens and have more birdie chances. Coming back on the back nine I think was pretty well done.”
Feng, who said she slept for 14 hours Thursday night, said she was more happy about playing again on Tour and making the cut then being in contention at the season’s first major.
“I didn't really focus on how I was playing. I was trying to find out, you know, the same feeling like how I was reacting on the course and if I was enjoying everything on the course,” said Feng. “Yesterday people said coming into this booth they couldn't tell if I shot 5-under or 5-over, so still the same. I mean, all I can say is that I really enjoy the whole time on the course. Doesn't matter if I was playing well or not.”
Moriya Jutanugarn, who carded her career-best finish at Mission Hills Country Club in 2018 (T6), is third at -7. “It was another pretty solid round for me. You know, just have to be a lot of patient out there. Seems like the wind blowing starting this morning and it's just make it different,” said Jutanugarn. “Just like trying to be patient out there and just take it when I can.”
Charley Hull and Anna Nordqvist are currently tied for fourth at -6, with six major champions in a tie for sixth at -5: Lydia Ko, Inbee Park, Sophia Popov, Georgia Hall, Jin Young Ko and defending champion Mirim Lee.
A total of 71 players made the cut at +1, tying the record for the lowest cut in ANA Inspiration history, last recorded in 2018. The lone amateur in the field, 2020 Women’s British Amateur Champion Aline Krauter, will miss the weekend after finishing +3 overall.