Notes: Park 8 back; Lewis paces self; more
Inbee Park’s perspective on the week is very wise. Simply put: “If I face this kind of pressure, I’m not afraid of any kind of pressure from now on in my career.”
How true. It’s likely not going to get any bigger than this.
After two rounds of the Ricoh Women’s British Open, Park sits at 2-under 142 for the tournament, eight strokes behind leader Na Yeon Choi. With two rounds to play over a windy Old Course, anything can happen as she makes her quest for a record fourth consecutive major in the same calendar year.
“Anybody under par is not of out of this thing,” said Stacy Lewis, when asked about Park’s prospects.
Park got the worst of the draw, playing in the afternoon wind. The morning wave caught a short burst of hard rain, but otherwise played in fairly benign conditions. The entire field enjoyed a calm course during the first round.
“Pressure I think got to me the last couple days,” said Park, who made the rounds with TV reporters – English first, then Korean – before print reporters circled around her. She stood there with her arms crossed, patiently and pleasantly answering each question.
“This is pretty much the the only week I’m going to get this much (attention),” Park said. “I should enjoy this moment.”
Park opened her round with a missed drive to the left and then a fanned approach that went long. She made bogey and then settled into her swing on the back nine, birdieing the 18th to shoot 73.
“This is probably the first major she has struggled with her swing a bit,” caddie Brad Beecher said.
Not everything is clicking yet for Park, but weekend wind should help separate the field. No one has more confidence closing the big ones than the World No. 1.
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CLOSE AT HAND: Stacy Lewis fought the instinct to try and charge up the leaderboard. The goal today was to stay relatively close to the lead. Playing in tough afternoon conditions, Lewis was pleased with her even-par 72 round. In fact, she believes those who played in the afternoon have somewhat of an advantage going into the weekend.
“We’ve seen this golf course play hard,” she said. “We know how patient you have to stay.”
Lewis hasn’t competed as well in the majors this year because of putting. She has worked on moving her right arm more away from her body in an effort to keep from “getting under it” on her stroke.
“I’m trusting it more,” said Lewis, who relied on a number of strong par saves to stay within five strokes of leader Na Yeon Choi.
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SOLHEIM SURPRISES: Meg Mallon’s job might get a little tougher this weekend with the strong play of several Americans looking to make big moves in the Rolex Rankings. With heavy weight given to majors in the rankings, players like Nicole Castrale, Gerina Piller and Danielle Kang have a chance to get in the passing lane.
Lizette Salas secured her spot on the Solheim Cup team (via the Rolex Rankings) by making the cut. She will join at least two other rookies on the squad in Jessica Korda and Lexi Thompson, who are in via the points list. Thompson missed the cut this week with rounds of 75-77.
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UNLUCKY 13: Lydia Ko birdied the last hole to make the cut at 1 over. The 16-year-old amateur advanced to the weekend despite a triple-bogey on the 13th.
Ai Miyazato was not so fortunate. The Japanese star shot 69-79, needing three shots to get out of a greenside bunker on the 13th and then compounding the errors with a three-putt. Miyazato took a nine on the par 4.
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SAIKI'S FAIRWAY EAGLES: Four eagles on the course so far today, and two of them were made by Japan’s Miki Saiki.
“I’ve never seen anyone hole out two times in the same round,” said playing companion Angela Stanford.
On the par-5 fifth hole, Stanford thought Saiki had made a critical error when her ball went screaming toward a bunker, only to watch it hop over the hazard entirely.
Sounds like Saiki should hit up the local betting shop. Today’s her day.