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Aaron Schoonmaker

Wie leads but challenges lie ahead at Women's Open

Posted June 20
Updated 2:46 p.m. yesterday

Michelle Wie watches her tee shot on the 11th hole during the second round at the 2014 U.S. Women's Open at Pinehurst Resort & C.C. in Village of Pinehurst, N.C. on Friday, June 20, 2014.  (Copyright USGA/Darren Carroll)

— The top of the leaderboard saw some changes Friday in the second round of the U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst No. 2 as Michelle Wie fired a 2-under-par and vaulted to a weekend lead.

Wie’s round gave her a three-stroke advantage heading into the weekend as she is one of only two players in the field under par through 36 holes. She sits at minus-4. Lexi Thompson joins her at 1-under after shooting a 2-under 68 Friday.

Round 1 leader Stacy Lewis stumbled through a plus-3 round to enter the weekend at even par -- tied with Amy Yang and amateur Minjee Lee for third.

Of the multiple golfers that entered the event with ties to the Triangle area, only a few remain.

Mina Harigae, who spent a semester at Duke is tied for 22nd overall at 5-over-par after a 74 on Friday. Brittany Lang, who played two years at Duke, made the cut by a stroke at 8-under.

Wake Forest graduate and current Deacons volunteer assistant coach, Laura Diaz, shot a 72 Friday to make the weekend cut at 7-over.

Difference in the weekend

Just as it was for the men’s event the week before, Friday’s scoring hole became the short par-4 third. The women played it Friday at just 229 yards with a forward tee box and a front-right pin placement.

Playing as the easiest hole on the course, it surrendered two eagles and 47 birdies on Friday. Only 12 of the 156 golfers found bogey or worse on the hole.

Among the leaders, four of the top five in the weekend field birdied with Wie scoring a four. As far as the Triangle trio that made the cut goes, Diaz dropped a birdie as Lang and Harigae pared.

It’s in the threes

One of the biggest differences in the men’s Open last week was the play of the par-3’s on Saturday. While the extended length par-4 2nd and 16th holes were the toughest, the par-3 6th and 15th were three-and-four.

Each surrendering averages well over par, and combining to allow just six birdies, they are the sharks with fangs so-to-speak. Lucky for the women, they will see roughly the same pin placements, making each of the treys potentials for tournament-saving opportunities.

For reference – Open champ Martin Kaymer bogeyed both No. 6 and No. 15 on his Saturday round when he battled to hang on to a 72. Rickie Fowler and Erik Compton, whom tied for second, each played the holes at even par to make up ground (at least at the time).

Can Wie finish?

The 25-year-old Wie has finished in the top 3 in four of the five LPGA majors in her career and has 10 career top-10's, but has never won. She missed out on this year's Kraft Nabisco by one stroke. 

Is this the event where she finally finishes the job as she heads into the weekend as the leader? Her three-stroke lead is the largest of any woman at the mid-point of the U.S. Open in the last 11 years. 

Another 36 will tell the tale.

Duke's Lang makes weekend cut

Brittany Lang, the two-time All American from Duke, is among those making the cut. Her rounds of 73 and 75 for a total of 148 have her in 50th place headed into Saturday play.

In her first experience at a U.S. Women’s Open, rising Duke junior Celine Boutier totaled rounds of 77 and 76 for a 36-hole ledger of 153, which was three shots off the cut. 

“I feel like my game was better than yesterday,” commented Boutier. “I hit a lot more fairways and my irons were really good. So I feel like I hit a lot more greens and I just had two doubles, except for that, just I played 2-over for the day and I think that's pretty good.”
 

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