Sorenstam Back at Williams Championship
Candie Kung posted a 66 of her own to finish two shots back at 4-under-par 136 alongside Catriona Matthew.
Sorenstam, who is making her first start on the LPGA Tour since missing the cut at the Women's British Open, has put herself in familiar territory. With one round to play, she will be gunning for her seventh victory of 2002.
'I've always said I want to be leading,' said Sorenstam. 'Tomorrow is a new day and anything can happen on this golf course. If I'm leading by one or tied with somebody, tomorrow is the day that counts.'
The 31-year-old was four shots off the pace through 18 holes at Tulsa Country Club and immediately began to make up ground with a chip-in birdie at the first.
Sorenstam ran into trouble with a bogey at the third after she failed to get up and down from off the green. She recovered at the par-4 seventh after she hit pitching wedge to nine feet for birdie.
At the par-3 ninth, Sorenstam knocked her tee shot to 10 feet for birdie to make the turn at minus-4. She added another birdie at the 11th to grab a share of the lead.
Sorenstam faltered with a two-putt bogey at the 14th, but the top player in the world responded with a birdie at the very next hole. She took the lead outright with a birdie at the par-5 16th, after she landed her third shot inside 12 feet.
Sorenstam, whose missed cut at the Women's British Open was her first since the 1999 U.S. Women's Open and just her fourth the last eight years, spent time in Europe after her disappointing outing at Turnberry. The Swede will look to make her first LPGA Tour appearance in four weeks a good one.
'I think I'm just going to go out tomorrow and keep playing aggressive,' said Sorenstam. 'I'm not going to worry too much about the other players. I just have to play my own game.'
Kerr used a key par save at the last to keep pace with Sorenstam. The 24-year-old pulled her drive and punched a 5-wood out of a bad lie. The ball landed just short of a bunker and she hit her third shot to eight feet where she made par.
'It was a very, very gutsy par,' said Kerr, who earned her first career win at the Longs Drugs Challenge in April. 'I've been in contention the last two weeks. I'll just go out tomorrow with the same game plan and see what happens.'
Kane had the low round of the day with a 64 on Saturday. The 37-year-old had seven birdies and one bogey to move into contention.
'I'm not surprised that a low round came out of me today, because I've been waiting for it for a while,' said Kane. 'Tomorrow I'm going to go out and do the same thing I did today.'
First-round leader Tracy Hanson struggled with a 3-over 73 to finish tied for sixth alongside Shani Waugh, Beth Bauer, Pamela Kerrigan, Joanne Mills and Kris Tschetter at 3-under-par 137.
Defending champion Gloria Park could not improve on her opening round. The Korean managed a 71 to finish nine shots off the pace at 3-over-par 143.
Full-field scores from the Williams Championship
Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain
PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.
She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.
“I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.
Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.
Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.
“Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”
She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.
“I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”
Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.
“Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.
She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.
“They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”
Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.
While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.
“Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”
Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead
PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.
In fact, she named her “Mona.”
For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.
While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.
And that has her excited about this year.
Well, that and having a healthy back again.
“I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”
Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.
“Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”
Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.
She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”
Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.
Clanton rides hole-out eagle to lead at Founders
PHOENIX - Cydney Clanton holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par-4 13th and closed with a birdie Friday to take the second-round lead in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.
Clanton shot a 5-under 67, playing the back nine at Desert Ridge in 5-under 31 to reach 9-under 135.
Clanton's wedge on the 13th flew into the cup on the first bounce. She also birdied the par-5 11th and 15th and the par-4 18th. The 28-year-old former Auburn player is winless on the LPGA.
Ariya Jutanugarn, Marina Alex, Karine Icher and Mariajo Uribe were a stroke back on a calmer day after wind made scoring more difficult Thursday.
Jessica Korda and Mo Martin were 7 under, and Michelle Wie topped the group at 6 under.
Ko's struggles continue with Founders MC
PHOENIX – Lydia Ko loves the Bank of Hope Founders Cup and its celebration of the game’s pioneers, and that made missing the cut Friday sting a little more.
With a 1-over-par 73 following Thursday’s 74, Ko missed the cut by four shots.
After tying for 10th at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in her last start, Ko looked to be turning a corner in her quest to find her best form again, but she heads to next week’s Kia Classic with more work to do.
“I just have to stay patient,” Ko said. “I just have to keep my head high.”
It was just the fifth missed cut in Ko’s 120 career LPGA starts, but her fourth in her last 26 starts.
Ko’s ball striking has been erratic this year, but her putting has been carrying her. She said her putting let her down Friday.
“It seemed like I couldn’t hole a single putt,” she said. “When I missed greens, I just wasn’t getting up and down. When I got a birdie opportunity, I wasn’t able to hole it.”
Ko came to Phoenix ranked 112th in driving distance, 121st in driving accuracy and 83rd in greens in regulation. She was sixth in putting average.
Cristie Kerr saw the struggle playing two rounds with Ko.
“Her game’s not in good shape,” Kerr said. “She seemed a little lost.”
Ko, 20, made those sweeping changes last year, starting 2017 with a new coach (Gary Gilchrist), a new caddie (Peter Godfrey) and new equipment (PXG). She made more changes at this year’s start, with another new coach (Ted Oh) and new caddie (Jonnie Scott).
Ko doesn’t have to look further than Michelle Wie to see how a player’s game can totally turn around.
“It always takes time to get used to things,” Ko said. “By the end of last year, I was playing solid. I’m hoping it won’t take as much time this year.”
Ko had Oh fly to Asia to work with her in her two starts before the Founders Cup, with their work showing up in her play at the HSBC in Singapore. She said she would be talking to Oh again before heading to the Kia Classic next week and then the ANA Inspiration. She has won both of those events and will be looking to pull some good vibes from that.
“This is my favorite stretch of events,” she said. “And I love the Founders Cup, how it celebrates all the generations that have walked through women’s golf. And I love the West Coast swing. Hopefully, I’ll make more putts next week.”
Ko, whose run of 85 consecutive weeks at Rolex world No. 1 ended last summer, slipped to No. 12 this week.