Suzann Pettersen carded a superb three under par 69 to storm into a two shot lead after the second round of the Ricoh Women’s British Open at a wet and windy Trump Turnberry Resort in Ayrshire.
The Norwegian carded three birdies and dropped just one shot as she posted a 36-hole total of seven under par 137 to go into the third round with a two shot lead over New Zealand’s Lydia Ko, Korean duo, So Yeon Ryu and Jin-Young Ko and Teresa Lu from Chinese Taipei on seven under par 137.
For much of the day, Pettersen was the only player to shoot a sub-70 round. However, as darkness fell, and the rain continued to tumble from the leaden skies, her fellow Scandinavian, Maria McBride – formerly Hjorth – carded a flawless 66 to better her opening round by no less than 13 shots.
Thirty seven players started the second round under par but by nightfall that number had dwindled to 14 as the unseasonal weather took its toll.
Japan’s Mika Miyazato carded a battling level par 72 to claim sixth place on four under par 140 while Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist is the leading European after posting a level par 72 to finish tied for sixth place alongside Australian Minjee Lee one shot further behind.
World No. 1, Inbee Park, remains in contention to claim her first Ricoh Women’s British Open title after a 73 left her in ninth place on 142 while five shots further down the leaderboard Spaniard, Luna Sobron, the 2014 European Amateur champion, confirmed she would be the recipient of the Smyth Salver, awarded to the leading amateur, after adding a 77 to her opening 70 to finish on 147. All the other amateur competitors missed the cut.
Pettersen started the day in a share of sixth place but quickly moved up the leaderboard with birdies on both the par-4 3rd and the par-5 5th. She dropped a shot when she three-putted the 6th but promptly got that shot back with a birdie on the 7th before playing the remaining even holes in ten pars and a birdie on the par-5 17th.
“Today was a very solid round of golf,” said the 34 year-old two-time Major champion from Olso. “I felt I was in one hundred percent control of the ball. I did everything you need to do in conditions like this so this ranks pretty high as a good round of golf.
“I’m getting older. I’m getting wiser. I’m learning and I guess that’s why this game is great. Every year you can learn something different. I’m probably playing a bit smarter. This course is a lot about the tee balls. It’s not really necessary to squeeze the ball in between the bunkers. You can lay yourself up short of them and take the trouble out of play. That’s kind of my strategy this week and it’s worked pretty well so far.”
Pettersen went on to praise the contribution made by new coach, Butch Harmon, who she has been working with since earlier this year.
“I feel like going to Butch was the right thing,” she confirmed. “From a technical standpoint it has simplified things and it’s also eased the pressure on my body which means I can practise more than I ever could before. My body doesn’t get tight. It doesn’t get sore.
“Butch is a great teacher and he’s also a fantastic coach,” she added. “My swing is a lot wider. I’m much shallower which is why I hit it a lot further. It’s super simple and in weather like this you don’t want to go out there and start to think about technical stuff. You just want to get round.”
Ryu began the second round in a share of fourth place after an opening 67 and the former US Women’s Open champion and LPGA Rookie of the Year now sits just two shots off the pace after adding a level par 72 which included four birdies on the 6th, 7th, 15th and 16th.
“Today even par is a really good score,” said the 2011 US Women’s Open champion. “I’ve been trying to enjoy playing in this wet weather because I knew it was going to be like this. Golf is an outdoor sport so you need to deal with everything. But it’s tough. You just have to try to par every hole.”
Lydia Ko started her bid for a first Major title with a six under par 66 and the New Zealander is still on course after a 73 compiled in the worst of the afternoon weather. Her card illustrated just how difficult the conditions had become. The World No. 2 is normally one of the game’s steadiest players but on this occasion she dropped shots to par of five different holes although she also countered with birdies on the 4th, 7th, 14th and 15th.
“It was really difficult,” she said. “The wind was very strong and it was also coming from a totally different direction to what it was yesterday. The conditions at Hoylake (in 2012) were probably worse but it was very difficult.
“I tried to hit a lot of knock-down shots today. Some worked and some didn’t. The wind was really the big thing. On 16 today, I hit 3-wood, 3-wood and just made the green. Yesterday, I hit 5-wood, 8-iron which shows how things had changed.”
Taiwan’s Teresa Lu, winner of the Mizuno classic on the 2013 LPGA Tour, was the third player to finish on five under par 139. She started the day in the group at four under par and quickly moved to six under with birdies at the 2nd and 3rd only to drop shots heading back into the wind on the 11th and 15th.
“I needed lots of par saves,” she admitted. “I tried to keep it on the fairways but that’s difficult in this wind. It was hard to handle but I think I’m learning every day.”
Jin-Young Ko finished just as darkness was starting to fall at 9.30 but that did not stop her carding a fine one under par 71 to join the group in second place on five under par. She dropped a shot on the 6th but then regained it again on the 7th to go out in level par 36 before coming home in 35 with a bogey on the 12th and birdies on the 14th and 17th.
“It was very dark when we finished but I played well today,” she said. “It has been a long day.”
The cut fell at five over par 149 and among the big-name casualties were Paula Creamer, Laura Davies and defending champion, Mo Martin, who all missed out by a single shot on 150. Martin had looked to be cruising into the third round but she dropped two shots at the par-3 11th and then also bogeyed the 13th, 15th, 16th and 18th to stumble home in six over par 42.
Among the other players to miss out on the weekend were Japan’s Ai Miyazato (151) and Karrie Webb, the Australian who won the 2002 Ricoh Women’s British Open at Turnberry (155). Meanwhile, Michelle Wie, the 2014 US Women’s Open champion, withdrew on her 13th hole suffering from an ankle problem.