Notebook: At Even Par, Lee Leads Six Amateurs into Weekend
By Stuart Hall
VILLAGE OF PINEHURST, N.C. – Australian amateur Minjee Lee signed for a 1-over-par 71 in Friday’s second round of the U.S. Women’s Open and was more than happy with the round and her position on the leader board, tied for third.
“It is my first [U.S. Women’s Open] and I’m in contention, so I can’t ask for anything more, really,” said Lee, 18, the 2012 U.S. Girls’ Junior champion and No. 1 player in the Women’s World Amateur Golf Ranking™, who is four strokes back of 36-hole leader Michelle Wie. The last amateur to be so close to the lead after two rounds was Jane Park, who was also tied for third in 2006.
Lee, who is at even-par 140 for the championship, was one of six amateurs to make the cut at 9-over-par 149. The others are Brooke Mackenzie Henderson (144); Mathilda Cappeliez (146), of France; reigning U.S. Women’s Amateur champion and USA Curtis Cup Team member Emma Talley (148); Chisato Hasimoto (149), of Japan; and Andrea Lee (149). Lee, 15, of Los Angeles, is the youngest competitor to make the cut.
Cappeliez, 16, and Lee, 15, who are both playing in their first U.S. Women’s Open, shared the amateur contingent’s best round on Friday with an even-par 70.
Lee is seeking to become the first amateur to win this championship since Catherine Lacoste in 1967.
“I would like to,” Lee said. “It depends on tomorrow and just go step-by-step. You can't really get ahead of yourself out here. It will play really tough if you do. So just one shot at a time.”
Eight Women’s Open Champions Make Cut
Juli Inkster, 53, followed up her first-round 71 with a 75 on Friday to finish three strokes inside the 36-hole cut line. Inkster is the oldest competitor to make the cut in 20 years at the U.S. Women’s Open, since JoAnne Carner qualified for the weekend in the 1994 U.S. Women’s Open at age 55.
The 36-hole cut fell at 9-over-par 149, which ties for the second-highest cut score in relation to par in 30 years. The cut at the 2010 U.S. Women’s Open at Oakmont was 10 over par. The cut was also at 9 over par in 1986, 1992 and 2009.
Joining two-time Women’s Open champion Inkster in making the cut were seven other Women’s Open champions: Na Yeon Choi (141), Paula Creamer (142), Karrie Webb and So Yeon Ryu (143), Se Ri Pak (145), Eun-Hee Ji (146) and two-time and defending champion Inbee Park (147). Three other champions – Cristie Kerr, Birdie Kim and Laura Davies – missed the cut.
Lizette Salas (food poisoning) and Jane Park (back injury) withdrew from the championship on Friday.
Unprecedented Par 4 Provides Options, Opportunities
Lexi Thompson recounted her play on the 229-yard third hole of Pinehurst No. 2 like this: “I hit my 5-wood greenside and putted it up to about 2½ feet.” When Thompson went on to convert the putt, it wasn’t a par save she celebrated, but a birdie 3.
No. 3 played on Friday as the shortest par 4 on record in the U.S. Women’s Open.
Having played at 339 yards during Round 1– its maximum length, players were presented with the tees moved all the way up on Friday, giving them the option to either lay up and leave themselves a delicate approach shot or try to drive the green for a potential putt for eagle; no easy feat, given the narrow front portion of the green and Friday’s testing front-right hole location.
Many competitors were able to take advantage of the hole’s shorter setup– there were 47 birdies and just 11 bogeys, while Sandra Gal and Chella Choi made eagle 2s. Still, the scoring average of 3.75 made birdie far from automatic, even for the best players in the game.
“It's really tough, but I still have a chance to make a really great birdie if I play smart,” said 2011 Women’s Open champion So Yeon Ryu of the unique hole. Ryu did in fact make 3 after a nifty recovery from left of the green. “For me, it's fun, I have to be smart, so I have to be thinking a bit more. That kind of thing is really fun for me.”
Stuart Hall is a North Carolina-based freelance writer whose work appears regularly on usga.org and uswomensopen.com. Ron Driscoll and Scott Lipsky of the USGA contributed.
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