With 64 players within 5 shots of the lead at the LPGA Marathon Classic presented by Owens Corning & O-I at the end of the 1st round, I predicted a 2nd round of aggressive golf in a fluid field. That’s more or less the way the round unfolded. When the cards were signed, Beatriz Ricari (Spain) and Paula Creamer (USA) were sharing the top of the board with 1st round leader Alison Walshe (USA) at -8. Ricari, who started the round at -2 and tied for 19th, traveled a bit further to get to the top than Creamer, who ended the first round at -5 and sharing the 2nd spot on the board. Walshe, ranked #90 by Roles, lingered 1 stroke behind Ricari and Creamer for most of her round, then birdied the 18th hole to pull even and share the lead going in to the 3rd round.
Creamer, ranked #14 by Rolex, has had 4 top-10 finishes this year, most recently at the US Women’s Open. Ricari, currently at #26 in the Rolex Rankings, played her heart out today, bettering her driving distance by 15 yards over her 1st round stats and carding an eagle on the par 4 15th hole. They’re both looking to take the lead in the 3rd round.
Inbee Park (South Korea) carded -2 today and crept up from 5th to 4th place on the board. With everyone playing against her and the fans holding their collective breath, the Rolex ranked #1 player in the world continues to play her game. Today, with 3 bogeys on her card, Park is clearly struggling with a putter that’s cooled considerably from her spectacularly hot putting performance over the last 2 months. Can she blow some of her magic back into the flat stick in time for tomorrow’s round?
Stacy Lewis (USA), holding the 2nd spot in the Rolex Rankings and recipient of the fan-voted ESPY Best Female Golfer award, continues to play back in the pack. Lewis finished her 2nd round at +1. Now at even par for the tournament, Lewis has dropped from a tie for 31 to a tie for 40 in the tournament’s overall rankings.
Defending champ So Yeon Ryu (South Korea) is still looking for that pre-tournament fortune cookie prediction. Ryu, ranked at #5 by Rolex, carded -2 today and, at -5 for the tournament, in now in a 3-way tie for 8th place with Jodi Ewart Shadoff (England) and Lexi Thompson (USA).
Angela Stanford (USA), at #16 in the Rolex Rankings, looked hot going in to the Marathon Classic. Stanford shared a 4th place finish in the US Women’s Open and had a heartbreaking 2nd place finish at the Manulife Classic, a tournament she lost to Hee Young Park (South Korea) in a sudden death playoff. But Stanford, with 3 bogeys in the 1st round and 4 bogeys on her card today, has cooled off. At +1 for the tourney, Stanford is 9 shots off the lead and even with very hot playing she may not be able to span the distance to the top of the board.
At the mid-point in the Marathon there are 20 players within 5 strokes of the lead. With 36 holes remaining in the tourney there’s plenty of time for movement. A bogey here, a birdie there, and an eagle at an opportune moment could rearrange the board dramatically.
The Golf Channel will provide live coverage of the Marathon Classic both Saturday and Sunday, 2-4pm EST, and I’ll be back each day as well with a wrap-up of the round.