RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – The year’s first major is shaping up to be a desert dandy. Six of the top 10 players at the ANA Inspiration are major winners. Lexi Thompson, the 2014 ANA champion, leads the field at 8-under 136 with Michelle Wie headlining a foursome that’s one shot behind.
Suzann Pettersen, who has finished runner-up three times at Mission Hills, got to rest Saturday morning after wrapping up her 7-under showing the day prior. Joining Pettersen and Wie in joint second are South Koreans So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park. Fifty-six players had to return to the course Saturday to complete their second rounds.
The third round begins at 11:30 a.m. local (Pacific) time with players going off in threesomes.
Thompson, 22, held the 36-hole lead when she won the ANA in 2014. She has previously held the 36-hole lead six times on the LPGA and collected a trophy on half those occasions.
“My game is in a good spot,” she said. “I just have to focus on doing one shot at a time and just focus on just doing my routine and relaxing.”
Wie thought she might grab a second breakfast after her morning’s work.
“More coffee I think will be key today,” said Wie, who played 10 holes Saturday morning in 1 under.
Wie’s putting stroke (what David Leadbetter calls the ‘reverse Sergio’) and full swing look both unusual and unnatural, yet she’s in a position to quiet the naysayers with a second major title.
The player who first contended at this championship at age 13 actually looks like she’s enjoying herself inside the ropes.
On Friday, Wie had nearly an entire day to kill with a 5:30 p.m. tee time. Her dog Lola kept her occupied for most of the morning at nearby Bighorn. She considered starting a Harry Potter movie marathon, but when she couldn’t find the first one settled for “Train to Buson,” a Korean zombie movie.
“I was really stressed out,” she laughed.
Wiesy easily pulled the week’s largest galleries playing alongside Lucy Li, a phenom who is essentially both half Wie’s age and her size. Li bogeyed three of her last four holes to finish 1 over through 36 holes. She was the only amateur to make the cut.
Ryu, currently No. 3 in the world, hasn’t won on the LPGA since 2014, a rather remarkable stat for a woman who first caught the attention of American fans when she won the 2011 U.S. Women’s Open.
“Right now, I think I’m in my zone,” said Ryu, who hasn’t finished outside the top seven in four LPGA starts. She leads the tour in greens in regulation at 85 percent, scoring at 67.94 and the money list at $387,166.
She’ll be in the final group on Saturday with Thompson and Park.
Kerr, who is playing in her 19th ANA, joins Pettersen as a veteran who has had her share of close calls at this championship – six top-5 finishes – with no trophy. She took 29 putts in each of the first two rounds, and like Pettersen, spent Saturday morning at her leisure.
American rookie Nelly Korda and gold medalist Inbee Park add to the intriguing list of contenders. They’ll share the stage with Aussie Minjee Lee in the 1:09 p.m. local time group.