Wie sets standard at Women's Open in North Carolina
By Doug Ferguson, AP Sunday, June 22, 2014, 12:00 am TWN
PINEHURST, North CarolinaMichalle--Wie and Lexi Thompson are the only two players under par at the U.S. Women's Open after Friday's second round at the demanding Pinehurst course.
Wie finished with back-to-back birdies for a 2-under 68 to give her a three-stroke lead at 4-under 136, while Lexi Thompson ran off three straight birdies to match her for the lowest score Friday and remain in touch.
Their second-round performances perhaps set up a rematch from the first major of the year when Thompson soundly beat Wie in the final round at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
"Definitely too early," Thompson said. "Thirty-six holes in a major, that's a lot of golf to be played, especially at a U.S. Women's Open."
Wie relied on her table-top putting stance to twice make long par saves. She finished with a 6-iron that set up a 12-foot birdie putt, and a 15-foot birdie on the par-5 ninth to reach 4-under 136.
"It's a grind out there. It's not easy," Wie said. "Really grateful for the par putts that I made and some of the birdie putts that I made. I can't complain. I'll take it."
Just when it looked as if Wie might run away with it, Thompson pulled off a remarkable shot to remain in contention.
From the sand and bushes left of the fairway on the par-5 fifth hole, Thompson blasted a 5-iron from 195 yards just off the green, setting up two putts for birdie from about 60 feet.
That was her third straight birdie, and she closed with four pars.
Stacy Lewis, the No. 1 player in women's golf who opened with a bogey-free 67, picked up a bogey on her first hole in a wild round of six bogeys, three birdies and a tough 73.
"I hung around, and that's what you've got to do at this tournament," said Lewis, at even-par with Amy Yang (69) and Minjee Lee, the 18-year-old amateur from Australia who played bogey-free on the back nine to salvage a 71.
Lucy Li, the precocious 11-year-old and youngest qualifier in the history of the U.S. Women's Open, started with a double bogey for the second straight day and shot another 78 to miss the cut.
The cut was 9-over 149.
Na Yeon Choi had a 70 and was at 1-over 141, followed by a Paula Creamer (72) at 2-over 142. The group at 143 included Karrie Webb (73) and So Yeon Ryu, who saved her hopes with three straight birdies on the front nine. All of them are former Women's Open champions.
"When you think seven shots, you think that's a lot," Karrie Webb said after battling for a 73, leaving her seven shots behind. "But really at the U.S. Open, I don't think that's too far out."
Wie is in contention on the weekend in her second straight major. The last time that happened was when she was 16 and had a chance in three of them. Wie already has won this year in Hawaii, and she has eight top 10s and is No. 2 on the LPGA money list.
Attribute that to a putting stroke that she owns, no matter how peculiar it looks with her back bent severely, almost parallel to the ground.
"You look at the way Michelle has played the last six months and you look at her differently," Lewis said. "She's become one of the best ball-strikers on tour. She hits it really consistent. She knows where the ball's going. And she's figuring out how to win. That's the big thing."
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