First-round leader, Russy Gulyanamitta of Rayong, Thailand, who held a two-shot lead on the fifth hole, was the player who unexpectedly moved out. The player fended off back spasms from the start of her round and was forced to withdraw due to injury.
'She got up to hit her approach shot on the fifth hole and just buckled and fell to the ground,' said playing partner, Kristin Dufour of Austin, Texas. 'Then her knees buckled again on the green while she was trying to putt and she went down.'
That was it for Gulyanamitta, who was carried away in a flat-bed golf service cart from the fifth green to the clubhouse. Treated by an on-site chiropractor, the tournament leader rested on a motor home bed with tears streaming down her cheeks.
'I cant play anymore because I cant stand up,' she said. 'I was leading the tournament. I was playing well. I am very disappointed, for sure.'
With Gulyanamittas departure from the field, and the relentless Friday winds now only a puff from the past, jockeying for position hit full stride at the 6,470-yard Isleta Eagle Golf Course. On Friday, there were only four at par or better. By this afternoon, with calm skies in the morning and 25 mph winds in the afternoon, a sense of normalcy had returned to the high desert. Seventeen players finished Saturdays second round at par or better.
Erika Wicoff of Hartford City, Ind., who began the day two shots behind Gulayanamitta, clung to a share of the lead in spite of a 74 (+2) and a 34-putt struggle that included two three putts and one four-putt green at the seventh hole. Dufour, who was tied for second with Wicoff at 1-under 71 after 18 holes, slid into a tie for 13th with a 78 today.
'It was a strange day with a lot of distractions, but I finally told myself to just focus on my round,' said Wicoff, a non-exempt LPGA Tour player, who also played with Gulayanamitta. 'Im where I want to be going into Sunday.'
But managing one of the days biggest moves was former LPGA Tour player Carmen Hajjar of Ballina, Australia, who charged from a tie for 12th into a tie for the lead. Hajjar posted a 1-under score of 71 to tie Wicoff at 145 and a chance to win the Tours largest purse of the season. She recorded four birdies and three bogeys to climb into a tie heading into Sundays final round.
'I havent been in this position to win on either the LPGA or Futures Tour,' said Hajjar, who played the LPGA Tour with various levels of status from 1999 to 2002. 'But Ive been playing tournament golf since 1998, and maybe its all finally starting to sink in.'
Catherine Cartwright of Bonita Springs, Fla., Courtney Swaim of Duluth, Ga., and Young Jo of Suwon, Korea, all moved into a tie at 146, one shot behind the leaders. Candy Hannemann of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, rebounded from her wind-whipped 80 on Friday to post the days low round of 68, moving from a tie for 77th to ninth place.
Cheryl Musser of Sand Canyon, Calif., moved some money into her bank account when she scored her first hole-in-one on the Futures Tour today. She used a 7-iron to ace the 129-yard fourth hole. It was her third ace in competition and career fourth hole-in-one. Musser won $500 for the ace in the Donald T. Ostop Weekly Hole-in-One Challenge.
Seventy players made the 36-hole cut at 155 (+11).
Tee times for Sundays final round will begin at 8 AM, with the leaders going off at 11:50 AM.
Full coverage of the Isleta Casino & Resort Futures Golf Classic