The cut has been made to 16 players, with a few surprises among the casualties. Here’s how they stand at the end of Round Two with the players in bold making it to Saturday:
-7 Mi Hyun Kim
-6 Christina Kim, Morgan Pressel
-4 Cristie Kerr, Lorena Ochoa
-3 Paula Creamer, Suzann Pettersen
-2 Sophie Gustafson
-1 Nicole Castrale, Juli Inkster
E Seon Hwa Lee, Catriona Matthew
+1 Sarah Lee
+2 Karrie Webb
+3 Natalie Gulbis, Ai Miyazato, Annika Sorenstam
+4 Jeong Jang
+5 Shi Hyun Ahn, Maria Hjorth, Angela Park
+6 Jee Young Lee
+7 Angela Stanford
+8 Laura Davies, Brittany Lincicome, Se Ri Pak
+9 Meaghan Francella, Inbee Park, Reilley Rankin
+10 Laura Diaz, Stacy Prammanasudh, Sherri Steinhauer
Pressel had the round of the day, a 65. Three players who made it – Inkster, Matthew and Gulbis – all suffered through rounds of 75. Webb dropped a 35-foot birdie putt at 18 to reach +2, which ultimately clinched a spot above the cut line. Pak was in a tie for 16th after a eagle at 15, but a double at 16 knocked her out and another double at 18 brought in the stretcher. Jang was even par through 10 but played the next three in +4 and couldn’t recover. Only one less stroke for JJ would have been enough to reach the playoff, which I correctly guessed came at +3. Ahn was right on the line with two holes remaining but three-putted from 11 feet at 17 and then failed to chip-in at 18. Sorenstam missed a par putt from less than three feet at 16 to fall to +3. Gulbis was even with only three to play but dropped her second at 16 in the water to set up double-bogey, and then missed a five-footer for par at 17. Natalie had a 12-footer for birdie at 18 which stopped an inch short, but she tapped in to reach the three-way playoff for the final two spots.
The biggest surprise of the day was Ai Miyazato. She started the day +3 and went out in 34 to put herself a shot on the safe side. A double-bogey at 10 dropped her back on the bad side, but she parred out (including a five-footer to save par at 18 when it was obvious that +4 wasn’t going to be good enough). When the playoff started, I assumed Ai would be the one who would fail to advance. I should have remembered her HSBC Match Play experience.
The first playoff hole was at 17, which thankfully appeared to be playing from a forward tee box today. All three players landed on the green, but Annika was less than 20 feet away. From across the green, both Ai and Natalie left themselves knee-knockers for par. Sorenstam missed her birdie and rolled it about nearly four feet past. Miyazato calmly drilled her six-footer to save par, and then Gulbis did the same with her four-footer. With the tables turned on her, Annika saved her par as well and they went to 18.
All three landed safely in the fairway. Annika’s approach found the left greenside bunker while the other two wound up at the back left edge of the green. Sorenstam blasted a little too far, stopping in the fringe past the hole. Miyazato rolled her first putt about four feet past. Gulbis stroked hers from 30 feet to within a foot. Almost certain she had to make to stay alive, Annika putted from the fringe but came up short. When Miyazato dropped her par putt and Gulbis tapped in, Sorenstam was gone.
Thanks to Natalie getting through, five of my final eight choices (plus my pick to win, Ochoa) made it through the first cut. The low eight rounds posted tomorrow will move on through and have the chance to win that million dollars.