Laura Davies birdied the 18th at Royal Troon and popped into the booth for her second job as a commentator for Sky Sports. Her takeaway going into the weekend: Anyone who makes the cut at the AIG Women’s British Open has a chance to take the title.
After two days of brutally difficult weather, Sweden’s Dani Holmqvist remains the only player under par at Royal Troon. Rounds of 71-70 put her one shot ahead of American Austin Ernst and Sophia Popov of Germany and two shots clear of a bunched group at 1 over that includes Lydia Ko and Minjee Lee.
Ko sounds as if she has moved on from that botched finish at the Marathon LPGA Classic, but there’s no way to really know until she gets in the thick of it again on Sunday.
Women’s British Open: Leaderboard
“The more times I put myself in contention or in a good position, it gives me confidence about my game,” said Ko. “Sean (Foley) has been trying to get me to swing aggressively and freely and I feel like I hit it better that way. Sometimes it’s easier said than done, but you know, I’ve just got to go out there and not worry about it and just believe in myself.”
Holmqvist, playing in her second Women’s British, started working with Brad Faxon on her mindset and short game during the LPGA’s five-month break. The extra time to work on her game and rehab her back has paid off handsomely thus far for the 32-year-old, who tied for 29th last week and leads at Royal Troon.
In the fall of 2018, Holmqvist injured her back at the Blue Bay LPGA event in China when a shuttle cart transporting players between holes lost control on a steep hill and slammed into a wall.
“I had a disk, which is leaking, and also really inflamed facet joint,” said Holmqvist. “So I injected that many times, and then it’s just been rehab and ice and kind of rest and you know how it is with backs, it’s a long process and very tedious. It’s an everyday thing.”
This marks the first time Holmqvist has ever led an LPGA event.
Lindsey Weaver can’t possibly go unnoticed at Troon as she’s been out there battling the elements without a caddie. The Arizona grad, playing in her first British Open, has been using a push cart since the LPGA restarted its season in mid-July. A second-round 72 puts her in a share of fourth at 1 over.
Nelly Korda found it difficult to stand up early on in Thursday’s round but found Round 2 even more of a challenge as the wind was consistently strong throughout. Korda posted a second-consecutive 72 and sits three shots back. She played alongside 2018 British champ Georgia Hall and took comfort in the face that it was tough for her too.
“We were like, are you scared over 1-footers, too, with this wind?” said Nelly, “because we were like shaking over it with wind and the gusts. She’s like, me, too. I’m like, OK, good.”
Inbee Park matched the day’s low round, 2-under 69, to vault up the board into a share of 17th, five shots back. The seven-time major winner won the last time she teed it up on the LPGA, the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, back in February. This week she has her husband, Gi Hyeob Nam, on the bag (longtime caddie Brad Beecher will be back next week). Park noted earlier in the week that Nam sometimes gets his math wrong.
After two rounds in exceptionally trying conditions, Park gave her man high marks. There is one area, however, where they can certainly improve.
“A couple of decisions that I had was probably wrong,” she said. “It was No. 16, I hit into the water twice yesterday. We laid up in the water. Today we tried to go over the water, but we went into in the water. That was the only hole maybe we have to change the plan the next two days.”
Park thought it might be “impossible” to break par on Troon in these conditions, but the 2015 British Open champion proved herself wrong. The LPGA Hall of Famer counts Scotland as one of her favorite places to play.
“I’m not going to say I’m enjoying this weather,” she said, “but it is fun competing in this weather.”
Scotland’s Catriona Matthew spent a brief time atop the board in red numbers at Troon before faltering a bit to a 76. The European Solheim Cup captain turns 51 next Tuesday and looks to become the oldest player to win an LPGA major. Fay Crocker won the 1960 Titleholders Championship at 45 years, 7 months and 11 days.
Matthew, the 2009 Women’s British champ, trails by six heading into the weekend.
“It was a lot tougher out there actually, a lot tougher today,” said Matthew. “It was just a crosswind today, so downwind played as tough coming as going out, actually. I didn’t hit it great to be fair. Made some quite miraculous up-and-downs.”