SINGAPORE — Karrie Webb recovered from a back-nine lapse to card a 3-under 69 and maintain her lead at the HSBC Women’s Champions after Friday’s second round.
The Australian veteran had two bogeys on No. 13 and 15, but finished with a birdie on the 17th hole to reach 9-under 135 and open a two-stroke lead over American Angela Stanford.
Stanford, the 2012 champion, also shot a 69, while Taiwan’s Teresa Lu is in third place at 6-under after shooting a 70.
Sweden’s Caroline Hedwall briefly pulled into a share of the lead with Webb on the back nine before two bogeys and a double-bogey on her final three holes. She fell back to joint fourth at 4-under 140 with four others.
Webb, a seven-time major winner, has played some of her best golf in recent years this month. Two weeks ago, she captured her fifth Australian Open title in Melbourne, and now she holds the lead going into the weekend against a tough field in Singapore.
For all the talk of the youth movement in women’s golf, 39-year-old Webb was demonstrating that the experienced players can still show up their younger competitors; as she was quick to point out after her round.
“Did you ask any of the younger players if it’s hard to play against girls in their 30s? Because you always ask me the opposite question,” she said.
Webb did acknowledge, however, that she has been forced to step up her conditioning; something she does not enjoy.
“All these young players coming up are athletes,” she said. “For me, I’ve had to learn to get in the gym and do the work required.
“My workouts have just gradually increased so it wasn’t hard-core to start with, where I would have just hated it and never done it.”
Webb was pushed by one of the younger upstarts on tour, the 24-year-old Hedwall, for much of the round on Friday.
The Swede, who has never won an LPGA title, sunk two long putts for back-to-back birdies on No. 7 and 8 and had a chance to pull even on the ninth but missed her 10-foot birdie putt wide. Webb followed with an 8-foot birdie putt that caught the edge of the hole and curled in, giving her a two-stroke cushion again.
Then came her bogeys on the back nine, however, which opened the door for Hedwall again. Instead of capitalizing, though, the Swede suddenly faltered.
Faced with a tough chip shot on a steeply sloped bunker next to the 18th green, Hedwall swung once at the ball and missed. Then she swung again — and missed again. She finally got on the green with her third shot and two-putted to save the double bogey.
Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist, winner of last week’s LPGA Thailand tournament, made seven birdies for a 5-under 67, tied for the low round of the day. She was joint fourth with Hedwall and three Americans: Morgan Pressel (69), Paula Creamer (73) and Danielle Kang (70).
World No. 2 Suzann Pettersen of Norway stumbled with bogeys on No. 14, 15 and 17, but made up for it on the 18th with a 40-foot putt for eagle. She was in a tie for ninth place at 3-under 141, a stroke ahead of No. 1 Inbee Park.
Pettersen has a chance to overtake Park in the rankings this week if she wins and Park finishes no higher than equal third.
Defending champion Stacy Lewis, meanwhile, struggled for the second straight day. She shot an even-par 72 to be tied for 39th place.