Davies, Hull fade as Saiki takes lead in British
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland Two things seemed pretty certain midway into the second round of the $2.75 million Ricoh Women’s British Open. Laura Davies and Charley Hull are unlikely to make this year’s European Solheim Cup team.
As for who is going to win at St. Andrews, Morgan Pressel and Suzann Pettersen seemed a better bet than Japan’s Miki Saiki.
Davies and Hull missed the cut, matching each other’s 4-over-par totals of 148. Those scores should quash any thought of traveling to Denver to play in this year’s Solheim Cup.
Davies was looking to make a 13th straight appearance in the biennial match since its inception in 1990, the only player on either side to play in every one. After a disappointing season, she needed an outstanding performance this week to get one of Lotte Neumann’s four picks.
Many expected Hull to take the baton from Davies and begin her own era. The 17-year-old has five-second place finishes this year and was in line for a pick. It’s hard to see Neumann selecting her now after scores of 76 and 72. Hull probably needed to make the cut to make the European team, but there will be more Solheims for the strong 17-year-old.
Saiki has no worries about Solheim selections. She can simply focus on winning this championship. So far she’s doing a good job of that, although she’s had the rub of the green.
The Japanese player took the lead early in the second round thanks to a 6-under-par 66 to move to 9-under-par. That score put her one shot ahead of Pressel, and two ahead of Pettersen.
Saiki played the front nine in 30 strokes, 6-under. She achieved that score with eagles at the fourth and seventh holes – with two holed approach shots.
The back nine was more conventional for Saiki. She came home in level par with a birdie at the par-5 14th hole and a bogey at the 16th.
A winner of two events on this year’s Japanese LPGA Tour, Saiki has some history at St. Andrews. She finished joint seventh here in 2007, posting a closing 67.
Not many expect Saiki to win. The same can’t be said of Pressel and Pettersen.
Pressel added a 2-under-par 70 to her opening 66 to remain in contention. She is not on the U.S. Solheim Cup team on merit yet, but after 36 holes it seems sure she will either earn her way on or get one of Meg Mallon’s two picks. Mallon could use Pressel: The 2007 Kraft Nabisco Champion has a 7-2-2 record in her the past three Solheim Cups.
Pressel hasn’t always embraced links golf. However, she finished eighth at Royal Birkdale three years ago and has gained a deeper appreciation.
“I think my past struggles here at St. Andrews as well as links golf in general my first two years on Tour taught me a lot,” Pressel said.
“This is my eighth year. I’ve learned a lot in those eight years. Everybody says build on your experiences and learn from your mistakes.”
We’ll find out whether she’s learned enough to win this championship. But she’s a lock to make the U.S. team.
Pettersen doesn’t have to worry about making the Solheim Cup team. She’s already booked her place. She might just do it as Women’s British Open Champion.
The Norwegian already has a major victory, the 2007 LPGA Championship. She also has nine top threes in the majors. None of those have been recorded in this championship.
Pettersen’s best finish in the Women’s British is T-14 in 2010. She also has five missed cuts.
“It (the Women’s British Open) hasn’t given me any super highs,” Pettersen said.
Pettersen finished T-28 here in 2007, a distant 12 shots behind Lorena Ochoa. She’s feeling better about her chances this week.
“I really feel like I’m in control of my game. I feel like I’m really simplifying everything.
“I’ve just got to go out and keep doing what I’m doing, giving myself a lot of great chances, playing smart, and trying to play to my strengths.”
At least she, Pressel and Saiki have a chance to play to their strengths. Hull and Davies can’t say the same.