The sticks were swinging, the balls were flying and dropping, and the birdies and eagles were piling up at the Victoria Golf Club in Melborne, Australia and when the second round was finished and everybody was in the clubhouse Caroline Hedwall was at the top of the leaderboard. With an eagle on the par-5 eighth hole and an ace on the par-3 sixteenth the Swedish powerhouse had carded a seven-under-par 65 at the second round of the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open. Put with her first round 68, the Team Europe 2013 Solheim Cup MVP was at -11 and holding a thin one-shot lead over her closest challenger, first round leader Suzann Pettersen. Right below Pettersen on the board, Australian amateur Mingee Lee, at nine shots under par, is holding a solo third place going into the third round of the Open.
Starting the day on the back-nine, Hedwall’s charge up the leaderboard from sixth place to first began after a birdie at the par-4 15th moved her to 1-under for the day. Then Rolex Ranked No. 21 Hedwall took dead aim at the par-3 16th with a soft 7-iron. She saw the ball hitting the pin, but the lull from the crowd left her unaware she had just recorded her fourth hole-in-one.
Hedwall’s solid play during Friday’s second round showed no signs of slowing down with back-to-back birdies at the par-5 18th and par-4 first before dropping a shot with a bogey at the par-4 third. Hedwall picked-up her second bogey of the day at the par-4 sixth to drop to 3-under for the day before a birdie at the par-3 seventh returned her to 4-under-par, then went on to claim her third eagle of the tournament and second of the day at the par-5 eighth after hitting her second-shot to within 4-feet. Momentum continued to swing Hedwall’s way as she closed out her round in style with a birdie at the par-5 ninth.
Just Off The Lead
While Hedwall’s impressive round moved her into the lead she has Rolex Ranked No. 2 Suzann Pettersen nipping on her heels. In search of her 15th career LPGA Tour victory, Pettersen carded five birdies and one bogey en route to a second-round 4-under 68 and solo 2nd place on the board, 1 shot off Hedwall’s lead.
Australian amateur Minjee Lee, who’s Rolex Ranked No. 214, is holding the 3rd slot on the board solo. She’s having a terrific time on the links. At last week’s Volvik RACV Australian Ladies Masters she finished runner-up to Cheyenne Woods. After a first-round 4-under 68 followed-by a second-round 5-under 67, Lee’s impressive play looks to be continuing this week at the Australian Open. Expect that ranking to start climbing.
During the opening two rounds of the Open, Lee, who could well be the future face of Australian golf, played alongside fellow Aussies and LPGA Tour veterans, Lindsey Wright and Sarah Kemp.
The Top-10 Ranked Players
After Pettersen, who’s starting the third round of the Open trailing the lead by a single shot, Kiwi Lydia Ko is leading the five top-10 ranked players in the field. Ko will start the third round at -8 and sharing the 4th slot on the board with Swede Anna Nordqvist and Englishwoman Holly Clyburn.
American Stacy Lewis and Austrlian Karrie Webb are both starting the third round at -4, seven shots off Caroline Hedwall’s lead. They both climbed from 42nd to 29th on the board, but Lewis and Webb will need to put a string of birdies on their cards if they hope to finish in the top-10 on Sunday.
Lexi Thompson, at +2, will likely miss the cut on this one. She’ll have a chance to make it up at the Honda LPGA Thailand, February 20-24.
Beyond The Spotlight: Fan Choices
Yani Tseng has made the cut. She’ll start the third round at even par, but her second round was challenging. She struggled through a round that included three bogeys and double on the par-4 sixth hole, carded 73, and dropped down the board to 87th from a starting position of 42nd.
Cheyenne Woods improved substantially over her first round 74. Woods seemed to settle in, get her rhythm, and start playing the game that took her to the top of the board last week at the Australian Masters. She shot 65, taking her to -5 for the tournament, climbing up from her starting position in 100th place to a finish in 20th.
American rookie Anya Alvarez has missed the cut, as has Melissa Reid. Danish rookie Line Vedel is still fighting bogeys, but she’s at -3 for the tournament and will play the weekend.
Scenarios for Rolex Rankings No. 1…
South Korean Inbee Park, who is not in the field at the Australian Open, is very much a presence in the mind of at least one player and her fans. Park’s 44-week reign at the top of the Rolex Rankings could end this weekend if Suzann Pettersen finishes in one of the scenarios below…
- If Pettersen wins: will go to No. 1
- If Pettersen finishes solo 2nd: will go to No. 1
- If Pettersen finishes in a tie for second with one other player: will go to No. 1
- If Pettersen finishes in a tie for second with two or more players: will stay at No. 2
Let’s watch it unfold.