Up on the green, Moriya Jutanugarn strokes in a birdie putt from 12 feet and rises to -4. Yesterday’s first 11 holes, played in four over par, have proved so expensive. Meanwhile her Thai compatriot Pornanong Phatlum, who ran Georgia Hall so close last year at Lytham, is putting together a round in the free-flowing style of someone happy to have avoided the cut by the skin of their teeth. A late run of birdies, at 13, 14 and 17, have boosted last year’s runner-up to -2.
It beggars belief that Lexi Thompson just has the one major to her name. The 2014 ANA Inspiration, and that’s it so far for the super-talented 24-year-old from Florida. Going into the weekend at -3, she needs something special today if she’s to improve on her best British Open finish of a tie for eighth here at Woburn in 2016, never mind win the thing. But a birdie putt from 15 feet slips by the left on the 1st. She’ll need a bit of good fortune too, and she gets it on the par-five 2nd, hooking her tee shot towards the tall trees down the left. A massive cannon off a trunk sends her ball sailing back in the correct direction. She’s in the semi-rough. She’s got away with that big-style.
Angela Stanford finally won that elusive maiden major last year at the age of 40. The Texan was a runner-up at the 2003 US Open, tied for third at the 2011 Dinah Shore, tied for fourth at the PGA in 2004, and tied for fifth in this event in 2014. She got over the line at last year’s Evian Championship in dramatic style. Eagle at 15, double bogey at 16, birdie at 17. And even then she needed her compatriot Amy Olsen to double bogey the last and fall short of a play-off. Stanford won’t be winning major number two this week, but she’s putting together a fine round today. Birdies at 7, 12, 13 and now 17 have zipped her up the standings to -3.
The weather at Woburn is much the same as it’s been for the first two days. Lovely and calm. So it’s conducive to low scoring yet again. Kristen Gillman – on her rookie year as a pro, but already with a top-ten finish at the ANA Inspiration under her belt – is proving that already. The 21-year-old US Amateur champion is tearing it up today. Birdies at 1, 5, 6, 11, 14 and now 15. One more before she gets home, and she’ll be matching Ashleigh Buhai’s best-of-week 65. She’s -5.
Here are some of the big names who didn’t make the cut. Shanshan Feng (2012 PGA). Ryu So-yeon (2011 US Open and 2017 ANA). Karrie Webb (Career slam). Paula Creamer (2010 US Open). Catriona Matthew (2009 British Open). Inbee Park (Career slam). Pernilla Lindberg (2018 ANA). Stacy Lewis (2011 ANA and 2013 British Open). Lydia Ko (2015 Evian and 2016 ANA). And Laura Davies (two PGAs, a US Open, the du Maurier Classic when it was a major, the British Open when it wasn’t). The depth of the field illustrated, right there.
Today’s tee times … for your perusal.
8.45am Sarah Schmelzel (US), Mariajo Uribe (Col)
8.55am Angela Stanford (US), Charlotte Thomas (Eng)
9.05am Kristen Gillman (US), Pornanong Phatlum (Tha)
9.15am Felicity Johnson (Eng), Chun In-gee (Kor)
9.25am Annabel Dimmock (Eng), Linnea Strom (Swe)
9.35am Jasmine Suwannapura (Tha), Su Oh (Aus)
9.45am Angel Yin (US), Azahara Munoz (Spa)
9.55am Minami Katsu (Jpn), Anne Van Dam (Ned)
10.05am Hannah Green (Aus), Jessica Korda (US)
10.20am Brittany Altomare (US), Austin Ernst (US)
10.30am Karo Lampert (Ger), Cheyenne Knight (US)
10.40am Hur Mi-jung (Kor), Momoko Ueda (Jpn)
10.50am Ayako Uehara (Jpn), Yu Liu (Chn)
11am Mirim Lee (Kor), Yuka Yasuda -a- (Jpn)
11.10am Kim Sei-young (Kor), Annie Park (US)
11.20am Xiyu Lin (Chn), Maria Torres (Pur)
11.30am Sakura Yokomine (Jpn), Brittany Lang (US)
11.40am Teresa Lu (Tai), Gerina Piller (US)
11.55am Jodi Ewart Shadoff (Eng), Jenny Shin (Kor)
12.05pm Ally McDonald (US), Nicole Broch Larsen (Den)
12.15pm Sarah Kemp (Aus), Caroline Hedwall (Swe)
12.25pm Atthaya Thitikul -a- (Tha), Moriya Jutanugarn (Tha)
12.35pm Lexi Thompson (US), Anna Nordqvist (Swe)
12.45pm Jeongeun Lee (Kor), Jing Yan (Chn)
12.55pm Kim Hyo-joo (Kor), Megan Khang (US)
1.05pm Olivia Cowan (Ger), IK Kim (Kor)
1.15pm Pavarisa Yoktuan (Tha), Morgan Pressel (US)
1.25pm Brooke Henderson (Can), Minjee Lee (Aus)
1.40pm Marina Alex (US), Nelly Korda (US)
1.50pm Jeongeun Lee6 (Kor), Danielle Kang (US)
2pm Carlota Ciganda (Spa), Ko Jin-young (Kor)
2.10pm Georgia Hall (Eng), Ariya Jutanugarn (Tha)
2.20pm Caroline Masson (Ger), Charley Hull (Eng)
2.30pm Park Sung-hyun (Kor), Celine Boutier (Fra)
2.40pm Bronte Law (Eng), Lizette Salas (US)
2.50pm Hinako Shibuno (Jpn), Ashleigh Buhai (SA)
Ashleigh Buhai didn’t wait around for Moving Day. The 30-year-old South African – a teenage prodigy who has taken a while to realise her potential – played the back nine in 32 strokes yesterday evening. That established a three-stroke 36-hole lead over Hinako Shibuno, the infectiously exciting young Japanese talent making her major championship debut. With the relatively short-hitting Lizette Salas in third, it’s safe to say the top of the leaderboard has a fresh, unexpected look about it.
But there are some big names lurking. The defending champion Georgia Hall for one, leading an English charge with Bronte Law and Charley Hull. The world number one Ko Jin-young and the number two Park Sung-hyun. Ariya Jutanugarn, who won this event here in 2016. The US Open champion Jeongeun Lee6. We could go on, but time’s a factor, and there’s golf to be played. Let’s get out there. It’s on!
-7: Law, Boutier, SH Park, Hull, Masson
-6: A Jutanugarn, Hall, JY Ko, Ciganda, Kang
-5: M Lee, N Korda, Alex, Lee6
-4: Yoktuan, Cowan, Henderson, Pressel, IK Kim