South Korea’s Mirim Lee followed her opening 62 with a 71 on the Marquess’ Course at Woburn Golf Club on Friday to keep her lead at the 40th Ricoh Women’s British Open.
At 11-under-par, Lee leads by one over China’s Shanshan Feng and Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand.
The world number 31 made a nervous start when she pulled her first tee shot slightly, but after that she quickly settled down and carded a pair of birdies on the fourth and seventh holes followed by a solitary bogey on 13 and another birdie on 17.
“I felt a little bit of nervousness but after a couple of holes I forgot about it. I think a little bit of nervousness is what makes you play well,” said Lee, who warmed up for this week’s Major championship with a visit to Buckingham Palace.
Feng, who almost missed her tee time on Thursday after rushing to the tee, fired five birdies in the first 10 holes of her second round to catch Lee on 11 under, but then bogeyed 12 and 14 before ending with a birdie on 18.
The first Major winner from mainland China in 2012, Feng said: “I started the round really hot today. I mean, I had four birdies in the first seven holes, and I was 5-under through ten. I made a couple bogeys maybe in the middle there, misjudging about the wind. But the birdie on the last hole made me really happy.”
Jutanugarn followed a 65 with a 69 containing four birdies and just one dropped shot. Looking for her first Major after one win on the LET in 2013 and three victories on the LPGA in May, she said: “I think I learned how to play under pressure, how to play, (so I’m) really excited,” adding that she smiles as part of her pre-shot routine to relax before every shot.
Catriona Matthew, who will represent Team GB in the Rio Olympic Games in a fortnight, roared into contention with a seven-under-par 65 to sit at nine-under-par alongside South Korean Ha-Na Jang. Matthew said: “That's probably one of the best rounds I've played. I think I hit 18 greens today. Just one awful shot on 16 but then followed it probably with my best shot of the day, the 4-iron on to the green. Gave myself a lot of chances and holed my fair share of them today.”
At 46 years, 11 months and 6 days on Sunday, the 2009 champion is trying to become the oldest winner of a women’s Major and added: “If I can get in there in contention on Sunday, I'm sure it will be a fantastic atmosphere; the crowd were great today.”
The 2014 champion at Royal Birkdale, Mo Martin of the United States fired a second successive round of 68 for a halfway total of eight-under, followed closely by fellow American Stacy Lewis, who won the 2013 Ricoh Women’s British Open at St Andrews, on seven-under-par.
South Korea’s Sei Young Kim and the three-time championship winner Karrie Webb of Australia, who won at Woburn in 1995, both finished at six-under-par, followed by local player Charley Hull in a group at five-under.
After a pair of bogeys on the third and sixth holes, Hull rallied with five birdies in six holes from the seventh, but dropped a third shot at the 16th in a second round of 70 to lie six shots off the pace. She said: “I didn't get up-and-down a couple times today, just because I'm so used to this golf course playing so soft from the greens sometimes. So when I'm chipping, I'm pitching it way too far, even though I know it's bouncy, it's just in my head, because you're used to pitching at the pins. It's definitely good being in a good position going into the weekend.”
A total of 75 players made the cut on one-over-par and the third round begins at 7.55am on Saturday. The leading pair of Lee and Feng will tee off at 2.25pm.
photos Janos Schmidt