Only nine players ended the second round at the RICOH Women’s British Open in red numbers and United States’ Mo Martin is sitting on top. Martin carded a pair of 69s at Royal Birkdale on Thursday and Friday and leads the field at six strokes under par going into the weekend. Spain’s Beatriz Recari and South Korea’s Su Yeon Ryu are both going into the weekend trailing Martin’s lead by three strokes and sharing the second slot on the board. South Korea’s Sun-Ju Ahn and Paraguay’s Julieta Granada, at -2, share the fourth spot; and at -1 Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn, France’s Gwladys Nocera, United States’ Amelia Lewis and South Korea’s Amy Yang are going into the weekend with a share of the 6th slot on the board. Defending champion Stacy Lewis, at +1, has some work ahead of her to make up the deficit and catch Martin, and Lewis is the closest of the pre-tourney favorites to the top of the board.
Martin: Journeyman Golfer
Martin, described by Hall of Famer Judy Rankin as a “journeyman golfer” who’s paid her dues at every level of the pro golf structure, is playing her third year on the LPGA Tour. She finished 57th at the 2012 RICOH Women’s British Open and missed the cut last year.
Martin played four years of collegiate golf at UCLA and then played on the Symetra Tour from 2006-2011, where she notched three victories. She had one top-10 finish on the LPGA Tour — at the 2013 Kia Classic — and she’s hunting her first Tour win.
Not a long hitter — she’s been averaging 230+ yards off the tee this year — Martin’s long game strength is accuracy, exactly what’s needed to get around Royal Birkdale’s tight, treacherous fairways and avoid the rough that drove up Stacy Lewis’s and Charley Hull’s scores today.
“Might Mo” likes the Royal Birkdale course, not an emotion likely shared by others further down the board:
Every hole you have something to think about . . . Every single shot you have something to think about. And then the wind gets a little bit tricky here. I’ve really been watching the flags because the layout of the course it subtly turns you into the wind or turns you away from the wind and you can’t necessarily feel it from some of the tee boxes, some of the approach shots. But there’s fairway there and there’s green there and that’s what I’m focusing on. – Mo Martin
In addition to Martin, Amelia Lewis, Jessica Korda and Morgan Pressel will start the weekend at the Open on the first page of the leaderboard. Amelia Lewis, at -1, has a share of the sixth slot. Korda and Pressel, part of a group of six at even par that includes Inbee Park, will start the weekend at six back and with a piece of 10th place.
Amateur Emma Talley probably feels better about her +1 standing than Stacy Lewis does about hers. At the mid-point in the Open the defending champion finds herself trailing Mo Martin’s lead by seven strokes.
Lewis reflected on her performance today:
I hit some really good shots and hit some pretty poor shots, too. My short game just didn’t really help me out today. So got to shore that up for the weekend, but I’m still in this thing. This golf course is playing so hard and just got to keep hanging around and hopefully I can shoot a good number tomorrow.
Still, Lewis seems to get better as the pressure to catch the leader increases. After the second round of the 2013 RICOH Women’s British Open, Lewis found herself five shots back of the then-leader Na Yeon Choi before going on to claim a 2-shot victory. Based on Lewis’ track record, right up to the way she closed the Sunday deal at the WalMart NW Arkansas Championship two weeks ago, you just cannot count her out of any tournament.
Paula Creamer improved today over her opening round of 75, shaving off two strokes and, at +4 making the cut and starting Saturday in a middling pack that includes two much-watched youngsters, Lydia Ko and Charley Hull as well as Laura Davies. With 36 holes remaining, none of them are out of the game yet.
Lexi Thompson is probably feeling downright grateful to have made the cut after her nightmarish start. The 2014 Kraft Nabisco Champion opened up with a 10 on the first hole after hitting not one but two tee shots out of bounds. She then followed with a bogey on the second hole and after beginning the day at even-par, Thompson found herself at 7-over-par.
But she made an impressive rebound, recording three birdies and just one bogey over the remainder of her round to shoot a 5-over 77. She also finished one shot inside the cut line and will remain in Southport to play the weekend.
Michelle Wie followed her season-worst Thursday round of 75 with an even more devastating 78 in the second round. The 2014 US Women’s Open champion ended the day at +9 and missed the cut by three shots. It was Wie’s first missed cut since the 2013 CN Canadian Women’s Open.
Along with Michelle Wie, three other upper-tier players missed the cut (top 65 and ties): 2002 Women’s British Open champion Karrie Webb, 2012 U.S. Women’s Open champion Na Yeon Choi, and 2004 Women’s British Open champion Karen Stupples.
Welshwoman Becky Brewerton and American Beth Allen will lead off the third round Saturday morning at 6:50am local time and the final group, leaders Mo Martin and Beatriz Recari, tee off at 12:35pm. BBC2 will provide live coverage from 1-5pm local time.
For fans in the United States, ESPN2 will pick up coverage of the round in progress beginning at 8am and continuing through noon, ET.
My colleagues and I at ProGolfNow will continue to provide updates and analysis of the RICOH Women’s British Open as well as other international golf news and events.