Jun 13, 2013; Ardmore, PA, USA; Spectators look over a leaderboard on the 12th hole as a weather warning sign is displayed during the first round of the 113th U.S. Open golf tournament at Merion Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: JD Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Golf fans have a busy weekend ahead. Rookie Edouard Espana holds a one shot lead at the halfway stage of the European Tour Open de España. Webb Simpson and Robert Streb hold a two-shot lead at the mid-point in the PGA TOUR Wells Fargo Championship but there’s a rookie lurking. And rookie Alison Lee has a two-shot overnight lead at the LPGA Kingsmill Championship. But the real question is Who’s going to make the move on Moving Day?
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In Barcelona, Espana, who until this week had only broken 70 once in his rookie European Tour campaign, added a second round 69 to his opening 68 for a seven under par total. Until this week the 25-year old Challenge Tour graduate had yet to finish better than 35th after having made the step up to The European Tour.
Still that was good enough for Espana to stay one ahead of Argentine Ricardo Gonzalez, with Northern Ireland’s Michael Hoey and South African Darren Fichardt a shot further back.
Defending champion Miguel Angel Jiménez had his second hole-in-one of the season and the ninth of his European Tour career, on the eighth — for which he collected 288 bottles of beer — but the 51 year old came home in 39 to find himself six shots off the pace after a round of 71.
Sergio Garcia. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Blustery conditions in Barcelona kept the scores high in general. World Number Seven Sergio Garcia was two shots outside the projected cut mark on three over when he completed his round of 72 in the morning, but made the weekend with a shot to spare and finds himself only ten off the lead.
Can Espana sustain his pace or will we see some movement from Garcia or Jiménez going into moving day? I’m looking for some changes on the Open de España leaderboard on Saturday.
At the Kingsmill Championship another rookie, Alison Lee, looks poised for a breakout. Unlike Espana, Lee has been having a strong rookie season and has been edging up to the top of the Tour’s leaderboard since her T4 finish at the Kia Classic in March.
Lee followed up an opening round 66 with a 4-under par 67 to move from a tie for second into the outright lead, two strokes ahead of fellow rookie Minjee Lee and Perrine Delacour. Lee’s only 2nd round stumble came with a 3-putt on the 6th, but she rebounded quickly and got her stroke back with an impressive birdie on the 7th.
Can Lee hold on to her lead? She’s a stronger bet than Espana, and some of the players I’d expect to be getting ready for a charge — Lydia Ko, Inbee Park and Stacy Lewis, to be specific — are well down the board going into the weekend. If a challenge comes, I’m thinking it might be from So Yeon Ryu, who trails Lee by two shots, Suzann Pettersen, who’s trailing by 4, or Lexi Thompson, who’s going into moving day looking at a 5-shot deficit.
Webb Simpson and Robert Streb have the overnight lead at the Wells Fargo, but the real story at Quail Hollow may be shaping up a bit further down the board, where rookie Patrick Rodgers is lurking in a 3rd place tie and going into the weekend with just a 2-shot deficit.
The former Stanford Cardinal turned pro last year after being awarded NCAA Player of the Year. His 11 collegiate victories match Tiger Woods’ record.
There are some other interesting connections. Rodgers graduated high school in 2011, the same year as Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Daniel Berger. Rodgers was teammates with Spieth at the 2011 Walker Cup, when both were incoming college freshmen.
Could there be a new youngster emerging on the PGA TOUR horizon, just as we all thought it might be a 3-way battle between Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, and perhaps Patrick Reed?
With McIlroy and Phil Mickelson trailing Simpson and Streb by 3 shots and the rookie feeling confident and playing strong, moving day at Quail Hollow could turn out to be just downright fun to watch.