Defending champ Hee Young Park had another fine day at the Grey Silo Golf Club as she continued her run for back-to-back wins at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic. Park carded 66 today and goes into the weekend at -11 and sharing the lead now with Shanshan Feng. Feng, who carded a 65, actually outplayed Park in today’s round, but she had a bit of a gap to close to snatch a share of the lead. Michelle Wie, who started the day on top with Park, has dropped back one place. Wie’s bogey-free 67, the result of putting woes, just wasn’t enough to keep her at the top of the board. She’s going into the weekend at -10, with Anna Nordqvist, who shot the best round of the day, a flawless 64, now at -9 and in solo 4th place. Rookie Xi Yu Lin came in right behind Nordqvist with a bogey-free 67 and will go into the weekend at -8 and in solo 5th place. There’s a pattern emerging. There were no bogeys on the cards of the top five players!
What Will Moving Day Bring?
There are 16 players going into the weekend within six strokes of Hee Young Park and Shanshan Feng, a small distance given the superb scoring conditions we’ve been seeing during the first two rounds at the Manulife.
There’s an interesting quartet going into the weekend at -7 and sharing the sixth slot on the board: Inbee Park, So Yeon Ryu, Na Yeon Choi, and Belen Mozo. Park’s playing a steady game and reduced her putts from 29 in the first round to 27 in the second. I look for her to make a move tomorrow.
Ryu, Choi and Mozo all used more putts on Friday than they did on Thursday and despite Ryu’s eagle on the par-5 5th and Mozo’s on the par-5 6th, neither was able to maintain momentum and pull away from the logjam. Still, Mozo’s playing a remarkable game, well above her Rolex Ranked 149th. She may be warming up for the International Crown next month!
Directly below Park, Ryu, Choi and Mozo there’s another mob clustered at -6 and sharing 10th place on the board: Carolina Masson, Alex Marina, Jee Young Lee, Jacqui Concolino, Kristy McPherson, and Cristie Kerr. With the exception of veteran Kerr who has 147 top-10 finishes on her resume, 16 of the victories, this is a group of players who are winless and are going to be playing hard to break out of the crowd tomorrow.
Masson, who’s 65th in the world rankings, is looking for her first 2014 top-10 finish. Marina, who’s at 393rd in the rankings and playing her second year on the Tour, is on the hunt for her career first top-10 finish. Concolino, at 215th in the rankings and playing her 3rd year of the Tour, has one top-10 and would like to add another one to her resume. Lee, ranked 138th, is looking for her season-first top-10 finish as is McPherson, who’s ranked at 235th.
Even as they’re looking forward and upward, this group will need to be watching their backs. There are several heavy hitters below them on the board whom I expect will be turning up the heat on moving day. Suzann Pettersen’s at -5 and Stacy Lewis and Lydia Ko are both at -4. They’re all going into the weekend with a plan in place for moving.
Pettersen eagled the par-5 18th today and got her putter working. If she can do it again tomorrow she could zoom right past the crowd of hopefuls lingering on the board at -7.
Lewis and Ko are both having highly unusual problems with their putters, an odd situation given the superb playing conditions at the Grey Silo course.
Near Misses and Notable Cuts
Despite her potentially powerful game, Gerina Piller barely made the cut, slipping up over the +1 cut line with her birdie on the 18th hole.
Brittany Lang was cruising along safely above the cut until she almost shot herself in the foot when double-bogeyed her next-to-last hole, but made the cut right on the cutline.
Big Break winner Jackie Stoelting made an impressive debut in her first LPGA tournament and gets to play the weekend!
Christina Kim, Ai Miyazato, Sandra Gal, Moriya Jutanugarn, Laura Davies and Pat Hurst missed the cut on this one.
Play begins at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic Saturday morning at 7:05am, with the co-leaders, Hee Young Park and Shanshan Feng, teeing off at 12:55pm. Golf Channel will begin coverage mid-round at 3:00pm and should continue through the conclusion of the round. All times are ET.