It makes sense that Michelle Wie has the lead after two rounds of the US Women’s Open Championship. After all, she played the Pinehurst No.2 golf course in 2-under-par under the toughest conditions—in the afternoon—on Thursday. It would seem only logical she would take advantage of the North Carolina Sandhills “Beast” at its gentlest during the morning hours on Friday.
It did not quite turn out that way, as Wie needed to birdie the final two holes of her round to match her Thursday score and post a 4-under total of 136, good for a three-shot lead over Lexi Thompson. Thompson is the woman Wie could not overtake in the final round of the year’s first major—the Kraft Nabisco Championship—in April.
Wie began the day on the back nine with eight straight pars. “I felt on some other golf courses I would be mad at that point,” said Wie, adding that she was very happy with the pars. “Pars are very good on this golf course.” She finally broke through on No.18, despite some adversity. Hitting her drive down the left side of the fairway, her ball came to rest inside of a divot mark. “I punched a gap wedge, rolled out nicely to pin-high, about 12, 15 feet [from the pin].” She would make the putt for birdie, but then surrender the advantage with a bogey on the next hole (No.1) after making the turn in 34.
Another string of pars would bring Wie to her 17th hole (No.8) at even par for the day. After a good drive, the 24-year-old from Hawaii would hit a 6-iron to within 12 feet of the hole and make the putt to move to 3-under for the tournament. The par-3 ninth was Wie’s finishing hole for the day, and she finished off in style, “I hit a cut pitching wedge about 15 feet short of the hole.” She made the putt for birdie and could relax in the clubhouse at 2-under par for the day—4-under for the tournament. “I can’t complain,” said Wie, “[after] yesterday I was thinking, if I just did this again, that would be nice.”
Lexi Thompson had 71 on Thursday (1-over), and went as high as 2-over on Friday after making bogey on No.18, her ninth hole of the day. She recovered, however, with three birdies in a row on her second nine holes to pull within three strokes of Wie. That means Thompson and Wie will play together in the final group in the third round on Saturday. “We’re pretty good friends,” said Thompson, “so I’m sure [Saturday] we’ll be having conversations between shots.” Do not take that wrong, added Lexi, “We’re going to be super-focused and trying to beat the whole field, not just each other.”
Friday was, regrettably, the end of the tournament for Lucy Li. The 11-year-old from the San Francisco Bay area carded another 78 to wind up the first two rounds at 16-over-par 156, missing the cut by seven shots. “I’m really happy about how I played. I’m really happy with how I bounced back…I got birdies after I got like doubles and triples,” said Li, adding “I learned a lot and, yeah, I guess it has exceeded expectations.”
In addition to leader Wie, and Thompson, other players who are in the tournament after two rounds include first-round leader Stacy Lewis, Australian Minjee Lee and South Korean Amy Yang, who are all at even par for the tournament and tied for third. Na Yeon Choi of South Korea is alone in sixth place at 1-over-par, and Paula Creamer is at 2-over along with Mariajo Uribe of Colombia and Sakura Yokomine of Japan.
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Commentary by Chuck Podhaisky