Childhood friends Paula Creamer and Jane Park remained co-leaders after the second round of the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore. On a day when only nine of the 24 players who posted sub-par opening rounds repeated the feat on day two at the Tanah Merah Country Club, the two 22-year-old Americans shot one-under par 71s to stand at six under par for the tournament and lead the world-class field by just one stroke.
“Jane and I have played a lot of golf together. We were always partners in team tournaments; we’re very close and very good friends,” said the Pink Panther, who has known her co-leader since they started playing American Junior Golf Association events at the age of 13.
“Paula has got one of the greatest mental games, and obviously golf games, out there,” said Park of Creamer, who in turn revealed the pleasure she gets form seeing her pal playing well.
Shanshan Feng (China) photo Getty Images
“I like to see her do well in her golf. For both of us to go out and compete is a good thing, but there are a lot of golfers very, very close together.”
South Korean Mi Hyun Kim is one of those. The 10-year tour veteran leapt up to a share of third place after carding the best round of the day; a four-under-par 68. She sits alongside red-hot Australian Katherine Hull, whose second round 69 elevated her to five under par for the tournament.
“You can make birdies out there but you have got to make sure you’re below the hole to give yourself a good start,” said the 2008 CN Canadian Open champion, who record four, alongside one bogey.
Hull jumped into contention with consecutive birdies on 16 and 17 before engaging in one of the lively debates with her caddie “Portland” John Powell that led Lorena Ochoa’s caddie David Brooker to compare them to Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street and has made them hot favourites to win some of the awards at the HSBC Caddie of the Year Awards.
“One of the awards at the caddie night (this week) is the “biggest difference of opinion”; I think John and I will be in the running for that one!,” she declared, before adding a comment that even her highly-opinionated bag carrier couldn’t argue with.
“It’s very much a jam-packed leaderboard and it’s going to be exciting. Right now it’s very congested,” Hull said.
Ai Miyazato kept herself in contention with a level-par round to remain at four under par along with Sun Young Yoo, while Lorena Ochoa is a further two shots back, but, as co-leader Jane Park quickly pointed out, still very much in with a shout of successfully defending her title.
“You can never forget about Lorena, because the girl is crazy! She makes putts from everywhere! You can never ever count her out!”
Shanshan Feng (China) 141 (-1) 70, 71
Q: How was today?
A: It was good. I had three birdies and no bogeys until the 11th hole then I had a double on a par three. I think that was a really unnecessary double! Then I made one more bogey on the 14th. I was not hitting the ball very well. My irons were worse than yesterday. But I’m putting well so I’m confident for the next two days.
Q: You’re in a great position near the top of the leader board. How do you feel?
A: I won’t put too much pressure on myself because it’s only the beginning of the season. It’s also the first time I’ve played here. All the players are champions here. I’m not even a champion yet. I’m obviously trying to be one but at the moment I’m just trying to get more experience.
Q: Did you do a lot of preparation for this tournament?
A: In the winter I didn’t practice too much so I was not playing very well in Hawaii or Thailand. But I was just warming up. Now I feel like I’m ready for this tournament. Now I’m in a great position so I’m very happy!
Q: HSBC said that if you hadn’t have qualified then you would have been one of their sponsor invites. How do you feel about that?
A: Of course. It feels great. It’s a good thing that they said they would keep a place to me. It proves that I did pretty well last year and maybe I can help Chinese golf to grow a little faster and become more international. Maybe if I don’t qualify next year, they’ll keep a spot for me!
Q: Do you think some of the young Chinese golfers see you as a role model?
A: I don’t see myself as one. Maybe some of them do. I’ve only just turned professional in December 2007 so I was still a junior player. I was just always practicing with my friends. I don’t feel like I’m a different person. I think I’m still the same but have moved from China to America. That’s it.
Lindsey Wright (Australia) 141 (-3) 72, 69
Q: Three under?
A: Three under today, yeah. It was good. The only annoying hole was 10. I hit a great shot into the green but there are sprinkler heads at the front of the green and I hit the sprinkler. I was lucky to make bogey and I was disappointed because that could have been a birdie. It was unfortunate, I reckon that cost me a couple of shots.
All in all I played really solid golf. I hit the fairways, hit the greens, made some putts and didn’t get into too much trouble.
Q: That’s the thing with golf, when you play well you can make it sound so boring!
A: It is. That’s the thing. You need to get the people who shoot 80! (Laughs). I did it in Hawaii, so I’m excited with that (today’s 69) trust me! That was easy golf.
I had a nice hole-out chip-in birdie on 18, which is like having an eagle. That’s a tough hole today. Nice little nine-iron chip shot that I fed in with the grain; I deserved it to be honest. I’ve had no luck for three weeks, so I deserve everything I get. (Laughs)
I birdied 3, 16 and 18 and there was another one (the par five fifth). Three’s a nice short par three, it’s not a difficult hole, and probably had about 10 feet for birdie. 16 is the short par four. I laid up and played a nice solid 52 (degree wedge) into the wind to about 15 feet above the hole and had a nice left-to-right putt.
Q: Three-under looks like it might be one of the best scores of the day.
A: Yeah, it’s just great! It’s a bit of a surprise (that the scores aren’t lower) but the course is playing long. The greens aren’t as quick as last year so I’m surprised that the scores aren’t a little bit lower. In saying that, it is playing long and the wind is up so three-under… I’m happy with that.
There’s still two rounds left and when the whether comes in it’s tough. I’ll take today.
Russy Gulyanamitta (Thailand) 144 (Even) 72, 72
Q: Finished even, how was it?
A: It was good. I had some tough holes where I couldn’t get up and down, but I made a lot of good birdies. I made five birdies, five bogeys. It’s kind of come and go.
Q: Any reason for that?
A: I tried to be patient and tried to make birdies. But some of the holes, the pins were tucked into a corner. I tried to be aggressive on those holes, but I ended up leaving myself some tough shots. I kept positive and kept think I could make some birdies back.
Q: If you could cut out the bogeys…
A: I would be 10 under right now! I’d probably be leading the tournament! (Laughs) That’s golf. You can think that way. I had some good birdies. I can’t complain. It was fun.
Q: Even is going to be a good score for today.
A: I think so. The course played a little bit long today, because it rained last night. It was long in the wind.
Q: All you need is one low round…
A: I just have to be patient. I don’t want to think too much. I just have to play one hole at a time. I can get a good score, but I have to get rid of my bogey holes.
Q: And you seemed to have fun playing with Kristy McPherson and Katie Futcher
A: It was a great group today. All the players are very nice, but it’s great to play with good friends. I know Kristy through Meredith Duncan and I played with Katie the first time in Hawaii; she’s very nice. I’m so comfortable playing with her. We’re going to share a room at the next tournament (in Mexico). It was good to play with her as a competitor, but we’re going to be a fellowship in two weeks too.
Q: Are you enjoying yourself?
A: Yes. I try to enjoy it even if I’m not playing well. Sometimes it’s tough. This is a big tour and the courses play a lot different to the Asian Tour or the smaller tours. I just try to stay positive and keep it up.
Pornanong Phatlum (Thailand) 148 (+4) 75, 73
Q: How did today go?
A: Today I didn’t drive very well because I lost some of my accuracy I had yesterday. But my chipping and putting definitely improved today. So that was an improvement.
Q: So do you think it was an improvement on yesterday?
A: Yeah. Much better. After yesterday’s round I made sure I practiced a lot. I really wanted to make sure that I improved on yesterday’s score. The practice seemed to work because I think my game generally improved.
Q: Do you think your practicing was the main difference?
A: Yeah. I do. Before the season started I practiced really hard every day. It’s very important to me that I keep improving.
Q: It was pretty hot out there! How did you find it?
A: I know. It was really hot! But I suppose I’m quite used to it because it’s the same as Thailand. But I’m sure other people found it hard because it was really hot.
Q: What are your thoughts on the next couple of days?
A: I’ll do some more practice. I’ll try to relax and not push myself too much. I’ll be very happy if I make the top 30. Hopefully tomorrow!
photo Getty Images