Lexi Thompson and Meena Lee showed the field how to take control of the Monroe Golf Club track during the first round of the Wegman’s LPGA Championship. They both carded 66 and slept on an overnight -6 lead, with Brittany Lincicome, Lisa McCloskey and rookie Jennifer Kirby, all at 5-under par, ready to break through today. But as the players tee off for the 2nd round, up and down the leaderboard, the four-hole 15-18 stretch on the back nine that tested the LPGA Championship field during the first round could make the difference between leading and chasing the lead going into the weekend. The three toughest holes on the course on were Nos. 18, 15, and 17 in that order. With 26 players starting the 2nd round within 4 strokes of co-leaders Thompson and Lee, mastery of those four holes today could be the difference between playing the weekend and going home, between peeking at the top of the board and fighting to survive.
Update on My Watch Groups
Stephanie Meadow, Charlotta Sorenstam & Danielle Kang, 7:48am
Stephanie Meadow, who thrilled fans with the game she delivered at the US Women’s Open in June, her pro debut, is playing below the cut line at the LPGA Championship, as is Charlotta Sorenstam. Danielle Kang, playing her third year on the Tour, is flirting with the cut line, but if she can navigate those four tricky finishing holes on the back nine she’ll earn the opportunity to play the weekend at her second Major this year.
Line Vedel, Jenny Shin & Mirim Lee, 7:59am
The Tour’s newest champion, rookie Mirim Lee started the second round even with Jenny Shin (+3) and both are edging out Line Vedel (+7). But this entire group is playing below the projected cut line during the second round.
Stacy Lewis, Lydia Ko & Anna Nordqvist, 8:32am
World ranked number 11 Anna Nordqvist and 2nd ranked Lydia Ko have a slight edge over number 1 ranked Stacy Lewis but for this group the second round holds the promise of an early shot-for-shot shootout. But with an early second round tee time, this trio will have a long wait today while first round leaders complete their rounds later this afternoon before they know their standings going into the weekend.
So Yeon Ryu, Laura Davies & Angela Stanford, 1pm
Angela Stanford, So Yeon Ryu and Laura Davies, all seasoned competitors, made their way through the touch 4-hole test largely unscathed during the first round. As I anticipated, Stanford is going into the 2nd round at -3, two strokes ahead of Davies and leading Ryu by four shots. Ryu ran into a bit of first round trouble on the front 9, with 2 bogeys and a double on the par-3 6th, but I expect her game will even out today. This group has a feel for the course now and they all know what they need to do to stay above the +2 projected cut line. Look for Stanford to increase her lead by two or three shots.
Paula Creamer, Na Yeon Choi & Mo Martin, 1:31pm
I expected that Paula Creamer, Na Yeon Choi and Mo Martin would play about even with each other during the first and second rounds, and the group as a whole would provide a barometer of the Monroe Golf Club track. They’re all trailing Thompson and Lee, but they’re going into the 2nd round within 2 strokes of each other. How did they manage the tough 4-hole stretch on the back nine in their first round? Creamer (at +1) bogeyed 16, Choi (+2) bogeyed 17 and Martin (E) bogeyed 18. Choi’s flirting with the cut line, and Creamer and Martin could also find themselves in trouble if they’re not able to capitalize on their first round lessons.
Inbee Park, Lexi Thompson & Karrie Webb, 1:42pm
Lexi Thompson will start the second round with a six shot lead over Inbee Park and a seven shot lead over Karrie Webb. Park navigated the treacherous four hole back nine finish without a bogey in the first round. I look for her to improve on that performance in the second round and begin to close the gap. Webb’s problems seem a bit broader. She struggled on the putting surface on Thursday and going into the second round she’s flirting with the projected cut line. Unless she runs into major troubles today, I’m looking for Thompson to maintain and perhaps increase her distance from her playing partners today and moved to one of the final groups over the weekend.
The tree-line Monroe Golf Club with its thick, sticky rough and deep green-side bunkers will continue to challenge the players during the second round. We’ll know who’s up to that challenge and will survive to play the weekend in a few hours.