Lewis, Jutanugarn battle to another draw


PHOENIX – They can’t shake each other.

Stacy Lewis and Ariya Jutanugarn are putting on quite the show at the top of the leaderboard at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup this week.

It was punch/counter punch again Friday as they continued to take turns with the lead playing alongside each other at Wildfire Golf Club.

“I had so much fun playing with her today,” Jutanugarn said.

Forgive Jutanugarn for repeating what she said Thursday, because it’s hard not to have fun making all the birdies these two are making.

Matching scores yet again Friday with 5-under-par 67s, they left the course tied for the lead through the morning wave.

They were a shot ahead of Mi Jung Hur and two shots ahead of In Gee Chun (69) and Jessica Korda (66).

“It’s always hard to follow up a round like yesterday, so happy with the day again,” Lewis said.

Lewis and Jutanugarn have combined to make 23 birdies and two eagles in two rounds.

And it’s looking as if they will be playing together again on Saturday.

Jutanugarn is seeking her sixth LPGA title in a little more than 10 months. She says she isn’t getting caught up this week in a match-play-like battle with Lewis or anyone else.

“I’m not really worrying about who is going to be on the leaderboard,” Jutanugarn said. “I just really want to focus on what is under my control ... Just go have fun.”

On Thursday, Lewis pulled three shots ahead of Jutanugarn, only to see Jutanugarn scorch the back nine and tie her for the lead at the last.

On Friday, Jutanugarn pulled two shots ahead on their first nine, only to see Lewis catch and pass her with three straight birdies after making the turn. Jutanugarn answered yet again, however, stuffing her approach to 5 feet at the last, where she made a tying birdie.

Jutanugarn is bogey free through two rounds.

Lewis, thanks to a nice escape from trouble at her last hole Friday, has just a single bogey. At her closing hole Friday, Lewis pushed her tee shot right into a fairway bunker with a menacing face to clear. She clipped a 9-iron nicely to 25 feet and two-putted for par.

“It was probably the shot of the day for me,” Lewis said.

Lewis is seeking her 12th victory, her first since the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship 33 months ago. She has a strong record at Wildfire Golf Club, with a victory, two seconds and a T-4 finish in her last four starts.

Lewis said the trick playing the birdiefest that is the Founders Cup is not getting too greedy.

“You still have to be patient, because on this golf course, if you try to force things you can make some big numbers,” Lewis said. “You have to go make birdies. That's the mentality. If you have a wedge in your hand, go be aggressive and make a birdie. If it doesn't feel right, if you have an awkward number, just take par and move on.”

One of them just may be moving on to a title if they keep this scoring blitz going.