It was a dominant performance from LPGA Tour winner Ally Ewing on Friday at the AIG Women's Open at Walton Heath Golf Club as the American blitzed the field with a 6-under 66 to hold just the second 36-hole lead/co-lead of her LPGA Tour career. The Mississippi native led the major championship by one shot on Thursday after carding a 4-under 68 in round one and extended her advantage to five in round two, making one bogey and seven birdies to tie her lowest round of the 2023 LPGA Tour season as well as her lowest round in the AIG Women's Open.
The 30-year-old got off to a quiet start, grabbing one birdie in her first five holes on the par-4, 3rd hole, but she turned on the gas late in her front nine, making four consecutive birdies on holes 6, 7, 8 and 9 to turn in 30 and get to 9-under overall. Ewing struck again on No. 11, birdieing her second par 5 of the day, and found another birdie on the par-5 16th hole to move to 11-under. A closing bogey on 18 dropped her back to 10-under, but the 66 was good enough to give Ewing the second-round lead as well as the third major championship lead/co-lead of her LPGA Tour career.
"I left myself in good position off the tee for most of the day except for 18, and I was able to hit really good iron shots into the greens, give myself a lot of looks, which you can have looks but you've got to be able to capitalize on them and I rolled them in," said Ewing, who before yesterday had only led one other time in a major having held the first-round lead at the 2019 Chevron Championship. "I rolled in some breaking putts, which I feel like that's always a confidence boost to match up the line and speed. I didn't even know until I signed my scorecard that I had four birdies in a row so that stretch from like 6 to 11 is kind of a little bit of a blur."
This is Ewing's 14th event of the 2023 season, and thus far, she has earned three top-10 results, including a T5 at the LPGA Drive On Championship at Superstition Mountain, a T8 at the Meijer LPGA Classic for Simply Give and a T9 at last week's FREED GROUP Women's Scottish Open presented by Trust Golf where she carded a final-round, 6-under 66 to sneak into the top 10. This is her seventh appearance in the AIG Women's Open, and in her six previous starts, she has missed one cut and recorded three top-25 finishes, tying for 16th in 2017, tying for 21st in 2019 and tying for 22nd in 2020. Outside of that missed cut, she has never finished worse than T51 in the event.
It's the first time since she won the 2020 LPGA Drive On Championship Reynolds Lake Oconee that Ewing has held the 36-hole lead/co-lead, and while she hasn't been in this position in quite some time, the seasoned LPGA Tour veteran knows exactly how to handle the pressure of leading a major championship, experience that will prove incredibly valuable as she works to win her fourth Tour title over the weekend in Surrey, England.
"I think you can't really suppress it," Ewing said. "Like I'm going to know where I'm at at the end of the day but mentally you have to be ready to regroup because the past is the past. Nothing that I've done through 36 holes can do anything for me for the next 36, so I'm just going to be mentally prepared for each individual day that presents itself. Each shot is going to be different. I know there's going to be potentially a long turnaround with a late tee time but just try to go relax and be recovered and prepared to tee off tomorrow."