Englishwoman Charley Hull has put herself in the mix through 36 holes at the AIG Women's Open after carding a bogey-free, 4-under 68 in the second round at Walton Heath Golf Club. The 27-year-old started slow on Friday, making eight pars and one birdie on the par-4 7th hole in her first nine holes to move to 2-under overall. After parring 10, she grabbed another birdie on 11 and then made three consecutive pars on 12, 13 and 14 before recording back-to-back birdies on 15 and 16 to get to 5-under. She parred out to post her first round of 68 or better since the final round of the U.S. Women's Open when Hull shot a 6-under 66 to finish in a tie for second, tying her best career finish in a major championship. While playing close to home is always special, playing well in front of a hometown crowd is even more so, and the Woburn, England native is looking forward to the next two rounds as she works to close the five-shot gap between her and 36-hole leader Ally Ewing.
"It was quite tricky out there today. It was a bit windy, a bit rainy, had a bit of all four seasons out there. But yeah, I'm pretty happy," said Hull, who has never finished better than T12 in this major championship. It was good to finish with a few birdies coming in. It was quite hard to hit it close to the pins because it was windy, and I'm hitting a bit of a draw at the minute. But I'm happy how I hit it off the tee and holed some long putts, and I'm buzzing for the next few rounds.
"The crowds are nice. Seeing my nephew in the crowd, it's really good. They are good crowds. There will be some big ones over the weekend."
Unlike many in this week's field, Hull was one of few players with prior experience playing Walton Heath, having teed it up at the venue earlier this year. Local knowledge tends to be invaluable when it comes to having success in professional golf tournaments, but Hull doesn't feel like playing the course ahead of time gave her any real advantage ahead of the AIG Women's Open.
"It's more I feel comfortable on this golf course, I would say," Hull said. "I haven't got that much local knowledge because I played off the back tees in a lot colder weather, so it's quite a few different lines, but, you know, I feel comfortable out there, and it's a great track. I think it's so pretty out there as well. It's just nice, especially, to stay at home."
This week marks Hull's 12th start in this championship, and in addition to her T12 that came in 2014, she has finished in the top 25 four other times, tying for 17th in 2016, tying for 16th in 2017, tying for 24th in 2019 and tying for 22nd in 2022. As she looks to become the first English winner of the AIG Women's Open since her good friend Georgia Hall last did so in 2018 at Royal Lytham and St. Annes, the LPGA Tour winner will have one thing on her mind throughout the next two rounds: making birdies.
"I'm five shots behind the lead in second place at the minute, so yeah, I've got to make birdies out there, and I enjoy trying to make birdies, so hopefully I can make a load," she said. "I was looking at the leaderboards and stuff. Only 10-under was leading. I thought that was a great score by Ally this morning. Yeah, it's good now. Just chase her down."