The Women’s British Open at mid-point is a tight contest in testing conditions, with IK Kim leading the way into the weekend.
The 41st Ricoh Women’s British Open at the mid-point is still a horse race in progress, and that’s exactly as it should be for a major championship. The field is packed with talent and Kingsbarns is presenting near-endless opportunities for them to showcase the best in their bags.
Michelle Wie set a brisk 1st round pace but going out in the 2nd round afternoon wave wasn’t able to overcome the disadvantage of weather and probably some nervous energy as well.
Wie started with a pair of bogies in the first 5 holes, then settled into her game, but fell back badly, losing three more shots in her last two holes. It was a disappointing 2nd round, made worse by those 36 putts. Ouch!
It looked for a time on Friday that Lexi Thompson and Georgia Hall were involved in a dress rehearsal for Sunday’s singles matches at the Solheim Cup. Hall signed for a 2nd round 67 and Thompson for a 68 and they’re going into the weekend sharing second place on the Kingsbarns leaderboard. Hall’s doing a better job than Thompson with her flatstick but Lexi’s game remains solid and the pair are facing another 18-hole slugfest Saturday.
The real story of the 2nd round is I.K. Kim who has put together two very impressive rounds and shown the field that even when you need 33 putts to get your ball around the Kingsbarns track you can still go into the weekend with a two-shot lead!
Kim’s back nine, 2nd round surge should surprise no one. She’s already notched two victories this season – her win at the Marathon Classic bumped her up to 21st in the world rankings – and she warmed up for Kingsbarns with a top-10 finish last week at Dundonalds. She brought a steady, consistent, well-tuned game to the Women’s British Open and she’s been using it wisely.
Four who will threaten IK Kim
Can Kim hold on to her lead? Not without putting up a fight, given the pack that’s in hot pursuit. In addition to Hall and Thompson, who are going to be quick to grab any opportunity that presents itself, there’s Monday qualifier Ally McDonald to take into account and also the 2014 Women’s British Open champion, Mo Martin, ready and able to grab a piece of the lead.
McDonald, who’s playing her 2nd year on the LPGA, has signed for a pair of 68s, no small feat given the testing conditions. Never mind that she’s ranked 199th and still on the hunt for her first top-10 pro finish. This is her 3rd major championship competition this year and she’s dialed in and calmly playing her game. Trailing by three is a good place to be going into Saturday’s 3rd round.
Mo Martin knows how to do this. She signed for a bogey-free 2nd round 67. Expect the same from her on Saturday. She’s starting four shots back of Kim, alongside Ha Na Jang, Chella Choi, and Jodi Ewart Shadoff. Any of them could end the day with a 62 and at the top of the board.
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To everyone’s delight Dame Laura has made the cut. She’s going into the weekend at a very respectable 2-under par, but she’s really struggling with the final holes. Still, kudos to the woman who’s playing her fourth decade of Women’s British Opens!
There were some surprises and disappointments below the even par cut line. Two of Team Europe’s Solheim Cup hopes, Florentyna Parker and Suzann Pettersen, missed the cut, as did Team USA’s Gerina Piller.
Karrie Webb, who delivered such a stunning game last week, won’t play the weekend. Nor will Ariya Jutanugarn, who seems to be struggling to find the game that took her to such great heights in 2016.
As Dame Laura so wisely observed just last Monday as she took the tee at St. Andrews’ Castle Course at the final qualifier for the Women’s British Open, “golf’s a funny game.” Indeed it is.
Thompson and McDonald, playing in the penultimate group, tee off at 2:35pm and Hall and Kim follow at 2:45pm, local time. Golf Channel begins 3rd round broadcast coverage of the Women’s British Open at 7am, Saturday, August 5 and NBC takes over coverage of the 3rd round at 11am. All times are ET.