SOUTHPORT, England — Mo Martin had a plan for Royal Birkdale, and it’s working better than she imagined at the Ricoh Women’s British Open.
Martin took two putts from short of the green on the par-5 18th hole Friday for her 10th birdie in two rounds, and her second straight 3-under 69. That gave the American a three-shot lead over Beatriz Recari of Spain and former U.S. Women’s Open champion So Yeon Ryu going into the weekend.
“It’s always nice when your plan pans out,” Martin said. “So it’s fun to be here.”
For Michelle Wie, it was fun while it lasted.
Coming off her first major in the U.S. Women’s Open at Pinehurst No. 2, Wie kept putting herself in tough spots and couldn’t convert enough pars. She followed her highest score of the year (75) with one that was even worse, a 78 to miss the cut by three shots.
Wie was among the favorites. It was easy to overlook the 31-year-old Martin, who has never won an LPGA Tour event and is playing links golf for only the third time.
She is 5 foot, 2 inches and among the shortest hitters in women’s golf. That figured into her strategy at Royal Birkdale, which is littered with pot bunkers and is framed by dunes covered in thick grass.
“Every hole you have something to think about. Every single shot you have something to think about,” Martin said. “But there’s fairway there, and there’s green there, and that’s what I’m focusing on. … My caddie and I just figured out where the widest parts of the fairway were, where I would have the best approaches into the greens.”
She made it sound so simple, even as Royal Birkdale has been plenty tough in pristine weather for these parts — a steady wind, but not as strong as it could be.
Martin was at 6-under 138, one of only two players to break par in both rounds.
Ryu was the other, overcoming a double bogey on her second hole by not dropping a shot the rest of the way. She shot 70 and was at 3-under 141. Recari, who arrived at Birkdale with a sore wrist that she attributed to no one helping her carry her luggage in the airport, birdied the last three holes for a 67.
Ayako Uehara, the first-round leader with a 68, shot a 44 on the back nine for a 79 and fell nine shots behind. And then there was Lexi Thompson, the Kraft Nabisco winner, who began her round by hitting two shots out of bounds and making a 10. Thompson fought back for a 77.
The second round offered a few amazing shots, none that tops the one by Vikki Laing of Scotland. She holed out with a 5-wood from 240 yards for a double eagle on the par-5 17th.
Wie was on the cut line until her tee shot on the 16th went right into a blackberry bush. She was inches away from asking for a free drop from a plaque in the ground, but instead had to take a penalty drop and made double bogey. She was too disgusted to read the plaque — it was there in honor of Arnold Palmer, who in 1961 slashed a 6-iron out of the bush and onto the green on his way to his first British Open title.
“That didn’t happen for me,” Wie said with a smile.
John Deere Classic
SILVIS, Ill. — Zach Johnson and William McGirt were at 12-under-par 130 and tied for the lead at the halfway point of the John Deere Classic.
They were a stroke ahead of Steven Bowditch, Johnson Wagner and Brian Harman.
Three-time Deere winner Steve Stricker shot a 65 Friday for a 133 total to vault into contention at the par-71 TPC Deere Run, and was tied for sixth with Rory Sabbatini, Ryan Moore and Todd Hamilton.
Johnson, the Deere winner in 2012, shot a 4-under 67 in the afternoon despite two bogeys in his last four holes. That dropped him into a tie with McGirt.
U.S. Senior Open
EDMOND, Okla. — Colin Montgomerie remains in front after the second day of action at the U.S. Senior Open.
The Scotsman had an even-par 71 on Friday and is 6 under for the tournament, good for a one-stroke lead over Scott Dunlap.
Dunlap had a 68 in the second round. He birdied Nos. 2, 5 and 7 on his way to a 3-under 32 on the front nine.
Bernhard Langer took sole possession of the lead with a birdie on 14, but netted bogeys on 15, 16 and 18 to finish tied for third at 4 under. He is tied with Gene Sauers, who shot 69 on both the first two days.
ABERDEEN, Scotland — Rory McIlroy surrendered the lead at the Scottish Open with his latest second-round meltdown on Friday, leaving three players tied for first place on a day when brutal winds played havoc with the field.
Kristoffer Broberg of Sweden, Argentina’s Ricardo Gonzalez and Marc Warren of Scotland were atop the leaderboard on 6 under, with just 17 of 150 players shooting below 70 on the par-71 Royal Aberdeen links course.
McIlroy shot a course-record 64 in the first round but followed it up with a 78, continuing a worrying trend this season that’s seen the former world No. 1 fail to build on strong starts.
By wire sources