Duke's Lang beats Open cut by 1; Boutier, O'Donnell done
French Golf Federation national coach Patricia Meunier-Lebouc hoped Celine Boutier would make the cut at the U.S. Women’s Open, shoot up the leaderboard and be the top amateur in the event.
Instead, the 20-year-old rising junior from Duke double-bogeyed her first hole Friday at Pinehurst No. 2 and never really got going. But Meunier-Lebouc still left the course satisfied, knowing that one of France’s top young talents would be better off in the long run after her experience this week.
“This is the best tournament you can play in your life, and she got to play it right now,” Meunier-Lebouc said. “Even though it’s tough right now, you can get a lot of information out of that and keep working the right way. I think she’s smart enough to do that. It’s just now it’s going to hurt a little bit, but I think she’s going to learn so much from this.”
Boutier carded a 6-over 76 in Friday’s second round to finish her first U.S. Women’s Open at 13-over, missing the cut (9-over 149) by four strokes.
Duke will still be represented in the field going forward — 2005 ACC player of the year Brittany Lang (8-over) made her seventh straight U.S. Open cut and Mina Harigae (5-over), who played one semester at Duke in 2008 before leaving school, made it to the weekend for the fifth time in eight years.
North Carolina graduate Catherine O’Donnell posted a 75 Friday to finish her first major at 13-over.
Boutier earned national player of the year honors after leading Duke to the 2014 NCAA team championship. The experience at Pinehurst made her realize that she needed to expand the variety in her short game.
“I feel like I don’t really have that many shots in my bag,” Boutier said. “So I feel like if I learn to play different approaches, I’m going to be better.”
Meunier-Lebouc said that Boutier’s mental game will also benefit.
“She’s never played in these conditions and I think after this week she’ll really know what it takes,” Meunier-Lebouc said. “You can’t just put yourself down when you make bad shots, because that happens to everybody. You have to stay up, even if it’s the worst shot you’ve ever hit in your life, and that’s something she’s not used to.”
After shooting 77 on Thursday, Boutier started on the back nine Friday morning. She was 5-over after double-bogeys on Nos. 10 and 16, but she played the remaining 11 holes at 1-over, including a birdie on No. 3.
“It’s hard to handle the frustration first, because obviously I’m not going to shoot 5-under on these types of courses,” Boutier said. “But it’s always great to play and I know what I have to work on in the future for the next U.S. Opens, hopefully.”
Lang, a McKinney, Texas resident with three top-seven finishes at the U.S. Open, overcame bogeys on three of her first six holes Friday to make it into the weekend. She posted a 5-over 75 on Friday after shooting a 73 on Thursday.
“I’ll probably go work a little bit on the putting and maybe play more aggressively tomorrow,” Lang said. “I was getting really comfortable out there. I liked what I was doing. I played really solid. Obviously 5-over’s not good, and I have to figure out how to score. I need to make some more 20-footers.”
Like Boutier and Lang, Harigae struggled at the start on Friday. After shooting 1-over on Thursday, the Monterey, Calif. resident had a triple-bogey on No. 1 and bogeys on 2 and 4. But she played the next 13 holes at 1-under to finish to land safely above the cut line, nine strokes behind leader Michelle Wie and tied for 22nd overall.
O’Donnell, a four-time all-ACC selection with the Tar Heels from 2009-12, struggled reading the greens but still shot a 75 on Friday, a three-stroke improvement over her first-round score.
“Overall I’m very pleased with it,” O’Donnell said of her first U.S. Women’s Open. “I had a blast. I really enjoyed being out there, and it shows me I can play out there with anyone, so I’m looking forward to the future.”
O’Donnell had one of the largest contingents of fans and media following her group because of 11-year-old playing partner Lucy Li, the second-youngest player in the history of the tournament. Li carded a 78 on both days. The increased interest was also a good experience for O’Donnell, a Ponte Vedra Beach native who plays on the second-tier Symetra Tour.
“If anything it helped me focus a little bit more,” O’Donnell said. “If I was out there with Joe Schmo it would have been a little bit different, but with all the people, I loved it. I felt the pressure both days and I liked it and I feel like I did well.”
MICHELLE WIE'S 4-UNDER 136 SETS 36-HOLE OPEN STANDARD AT PINEHURST NO. 2
BY DOUG FERGUSON, Associated Press
PINEHURST — For all the interest in the men and women playing Pinehurst No. 2 in consecutive weeks, Michelle Wie and Lexi Thompson made the U.S. Women's Open more closely resemble the first LPGA Tour major of the year.
Wie held it together with two key par putts and finished with back-to-back birdies for a 2-under 68. Thompson powered her way out of the sand and weeds and ran off three straight birdies to match Wie for the lowest score Friday.
They were the only players still under par going into the weekend, perhaps setting up a rematch from the first major of the year. Thompson soundly beat Wie in the final round at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
"Definitely too early," Thompson said with a laugh. "Thirty-six holes in a major, that's a lot of golf to be played, especially at a U.S. Women's Open."
For now, Wie had control with a three-shot lead.
The 24-year-old from Hawaii twice thought her shots were going off the turtleback greens, and twice she relied on her table-top putting stance to make long par saves. She finished with a 6-iron that set up a 12-foot birdie putt, and a 15-foot birdie on the par-5 ninth to reach 4-under 136.
"End of the day yesterday, I was thinking if I just did this again, that would be nice," Wie said. "Finishing with two birdies is always great. It's a grind out there. It's not easy. Really grateful for the par putts that I made and some of the birdie putts that I made. I can't complain. I'll take it."
Just when it looked as if this had the trappings of another runaway — Martin Kaymer led by at least four shots over the final 48 holes to win the U.S. Open — along came Thompson with a shot reminiscent of what Kaymer did last week.
From the sand and bushes left of the fairway on the par-5 fifth hole, Thompson blasted a 5-iron from 195 yards just off the green, setting up two putts for birdie from about 60 feet. Kaymer was in roughly the same spot in the third round when he hit 7-iron from 202 yards to 5 feet, that pin position more toward the front.
That was her third straight birdie, and she closed with four pars to reach 139.
Pinehurst No. 2 wasn't in much of a giving mood on another warm day in the North Carolina sandhills, with a brief shower in the middle of the afternoon that didn't do much to soften a dry, crusty golf course.
Stacy Lewis, the No. 1 player in women's golf who opened with a bogey-free 67, picked up a bogey on her first hole in a wild round of six bogeys, three birdies and a tough 73. A two-time major champion, she saw the big picture.
"I hung around, and that's what you've got to do at this tournament," said Lewis, at even-par with Amy Yang (69) and Minjee Lee, the 18-year-old amateur from Australia who played bogey-free on the back nine to salvage a 71.
Lucy Li, the precocious 11-year-old and youngest qualifier in the history of the U.S. Women's Open, isn't leaving town until Monday. She just won't be playing any more golf. The sixth-grader from the Bay Area started with a double bogey for the second straight day and shot another 78 to miss the cut.
The cut was 9-over 149.
No one was conceding anything to Wie or Thompson. What last week showed was a Pinehurst No. 2 that played about the same all four days, instead of some U.S. Opens where scores are thrown in reverse on the weekend. There's still plenty of time for players to chip away at par, and equal opportunity to lose even more ground.
"When you think seven shots, you think that's a lot," Karrie Webb said after battling for a 73, leaving her seven shots behind. "But really at the U.S. Open, I don't think that's too far out."
Na Yeon Choi had a 70 and was at 1-over 141, followed by a Paula Creamer (72) at 2-over 142. The group at 143 included Webb and So Yeon Ryu, who saved her hopes with three straight birdies on the front nine, and narrowly missing a fourth. All of them are former Women's Open champions.
This is a different Wie they are chasing.
She is in contention on the weekend in her second straight major. The last time that happened was when she was 16 and had a chance in three of them. Wie already has won this year in Hawaii, and she has eight top 10s and is No. 2 on the LPGA money list.
Attribute that to a putting stroke that she owns, no matter how peculiar it looks with her back bent severely, almost parallel to the ground. And she has learned to play the shot — she has a full allotment — instead of worrying about her score or her position on the leaderboard.
"I think you look at the way Michelle has played the last six months and you look at her differently," Lewis said. "I think she's become one of the best ball-strikers on tour. She hits it really consistent. She knows where the ball's going. And she's figuring out how to win. That's the big thing."
U.S. WOMEN’S OPEN NOTEBOOK: LUCY LI MISSES CUT
BY JOEDY McCREARY, Associated Press
PINEHURST — Lucy Li’s friends back in California have been filling her inbox with emails.
That’s the only way they can reach her at the U.S. Women’s Open.
The 11-year-old is too young for a cellphone.
“They’re like, ‘Oh, you’re famous now,’” she said, laughing.
Li made quite an impression at Pinehurst No. 2 — even if she didn’t make it to the weekend. The youngest qualifier in the history of the tournament mostly held her own at the Women’s Open.
For the second straight day, a couple of rough holes proved to be her undoing.
Hurt by a double bogey and a triple bogey, Li shot her second straight 8-over 78.
According to her caddie, this week was never about her score.
“She was here for the experience and the opportunity to play with the best players in the world,” caddie Bryan Bush said. “She proved that she can.”
Li was 22 strokes behind leader Michelle Wie and 19 behind Lexi Thompson, who both know about playing the Women’s Open at a young age.
Wie’s first was in 2003 when she was 13. In 2007, Thompson became the youngest to qualify at age 12 — until Li supplanted her.
“I hope she’s having a blast out there,” Wie said.
All eyes were on the pre-teen from the Bay Area who showed a beyond-her-years knack for bouncing back from mistakes and rough holes.
She bounced back from her roughest hole — the par-4 13th — with one of her best.
Li’s tee shot on 13 landed in some thick weeds, and she missed the ball when she tried to punch it out. After a brief chat with USGA President Tom O’Toole, she took a drop and her shot from that rough ricocheted off the green and near the seating area.
After she chipped to about 15 feet, she pushed that putt wide right and tapped in for her second triple bogey of the tournament.
She came back strong: Li birdied the 14th — her favorite moment of the tournament — and closed her round with pars on three of her final four holes to match her opening-round score.
“I’m really happy with how I bounced back from the big numbers,” Li said.
Marlene Bauer’s place in tournament history as the youngest player to make the cut remained safe: She was 13 in 1947 in the second Women’s Open before going on to become one of the founders of the LPGA Tour.
AMATEUR HOUR: Minjee Lee was a fan at last year’s Women’s Open, spending the week hanging around with her hero — fellow Australian Karrie Webb — at Sebonack in New York.
“It’s like the best experience ever,” Lee said. “So yeah, it was good last year.”
This one’s even better.
Playing the Women’s Open for the first time, the amateur moved to 1 over after her second-round 71 that pushed her into a tie for third behind Michelle Wie and Lexi Thompson.
Now, after spending most of her life looking up to Webb, now it’s Webb who’s looking up at her — on the leaderboard.
“It is my first and I’m in contention,” Lee said. “So I can’t ask for anything more, really.”
OFFLINE: Na Yeon Choi doesn’t Google herself anymore.
Not after the 2012 Women’s Open winner read all those news stories about her back home in South Korea while she pushed to become the world’s top-ranked player.
“I read all the Internet news in Korea and sometimes that gave me a lot of pressure,” Choi said, adding that now, “I try not to search my name on the Internet.”
After climbing to No. 2 in the world rankings last year, she said she “tried so hard to be No. 1, that gave me a lot of pressure.
“Last year, when I go to a tournament, I only think about winning,” she added. “I can’t control the winning, but I think that all the pressure affected my game in a negative.”
Choi came to Pinehurst at No. 15 in the current rankings and was 1 over through two rounds at the Women’s Open.
EARLY EXITS: Two players withdrew Friday.
Jane Park withdrew midway through the second round with a back injury. She shot a 75 in the first round and had five bogeys and a double bogey in nine holes in the second round.
That came a few hours after the USGA said Lizette Salas withdrew due to food poisoning. Salas had eight bogeys in an opening 78.
Follow Joedy McCreary on Twitter at http://twitter.com/joedyap
|At Pinehurst No. 2|
|Purse: $4 million|
|Yardage: 6,649; Par: 70|
|Na Yeon Choi||71-70—141||+1|
|So Yeon Ryu||69-74—143||+3|
|Yueer Cindy Feng||73-71—144||+4|
|a-Brooke Mackenzie Henderson||71-73—144||+4|
|Se Ri Pak||76-69—145||+5|
|Jee Young Lee||73-73—146||+6|
|Hee Young Park||73-73—146||+6|
|Eun Hee Ji||71-75—146||+6|
|Sei Young Kim||72-75—147||+7|
|Jodi Ewart Shadoff||76-71—147||+7|
|Hee Kyung Bae||77-71—148||+8|
|Ha Na Jang||76-73—149||+9|
Failed to make the cut
|Dewi Claire Schreefel||72-79—151||+11|
|Yoo Lim Choi||76-78—154||+14|
|Sun Young Yoo||76-78—154||+14|
|Jaye Marie Green||77-80—157||+17|