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Pettersen moves one stroke ahead
July 06, 2012

Suzann Pettersen -5, Rolex Rankings No. 6
Cristie Kerr -4, Rolex Rankings No. 8 and 2007 U.S. Women's Open champion
Vicky Hurst -3, Rolex Rankings No. 68
Lexi Thompson -1, Rolex Rankings No. 23
Yani Tseng +2, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Stacy Lewis +2, Rolex Rankings No. 2
Melissa Reid +4, Rolex Rankings No. 47

After shooting a second-round 4-under-par 68 on Friday, Suzann Pettersen will carry a one-stroke lead into the weekend at the 67th U.S. Women's Open Championship at Blackwolf Run. Pettersen carded five birdies on the day with her only bogey coming on the par 4 No. 4, leaving her at -5 for the championship. 2007 U.S. Women's Open champ Cristie Kerr and Rolex Rankings No. 40 Michelle Wie sit one stroke back at 4-under par. A trio of players are currently at 3-under par after 36 holes of play including 2008 U.S. Women's Open champion Inbee Park, Vicky Hurst and Sandra Gal.

Rolex Rankings No. 6 Suzann Pettersen is playing in her 10th U.S. Women's Open Championship this week in Kohler and has consistently showed up to play at the major championship each year. Pettersen has only missed one cut out of her nine starts and has finished in the top-15 the past four years including a T2 in 2010. It's no surprise the Open is one of the Norwegian's favorite events on Tour.

"I like the U.S. Opens," said Pettersen. "It's usually the biggest test of golf throughout the year. I like the way the USGA sets up the courses. They make it tough. They make it fair. And it's by far one of my favorite championships, just because of that."

Some of the major conversation this week has been on the difficulty of the course at Blackwolf Run and the challenge it has imposed on the field of 156 players. But Pettersen said, hopefully without a jinx, that the course has been more than manageable.

"This year there are birdies out there," said Pettersen. "I probably shouldn't say this, because we come out tomorrow and they'll probably make it impossible. But the course is playable. So just keep sticking to the game plan."

Michelle Wie will be the first one to say that her 2012 season so far has been a disappointment. But the 22-year old and recent Stanford graduate has dealt with the scrutiny and magnified coverage of her struggles with grace and class. Wie has missed six out of 10 cuts this year and recorded a season-best finish of T33 at the Sybase Match Play Championship back in May. She will also be the first to admit how excited she was with her second-round 66, the best score posted at Blackwolf Run this week.

"I'm pretty stoked to be back in contention and honestly not have to worry about the cut line," said Wie. "It feels pretty good. I'm looking forward to a good weekend."

Wie's 6-under par second round on Friday was her best round at a U.S. Women's Open by three shots, with her last sub-70 round at the national championship coming in the first round back in 2005 at Cherry Hills Country Club. Wie said her seven birdies were attributed to setting herself up for shorter putts than on Thursday.

"I think that was the main difference from yesterday," said Wie. "Yesterday I had a lot of 40-foot putts, 50-foot putts. Today on the back 9 I had a lot of putts within 15 feet. That really helps on the golf course. It's the difference between lagging them and trying to make them. So I was putting them in good positions today."

Much of Wie's struggles this season have seemed to come through her work on the greens, but after several attempts at switching putters and analyzing her stroke, Wie has figured out it's a confidence issue.

"I went to the belly putter, the regular putter," said Wie. "I haven't really changed putters since earlier this year. And just been working on my confidence, really. I know my stroke is good when I look at it on the cameras or any time I put a number on it. It's perfect. So I have to trust it.

"And know that I'm a good putter," said Wie. "That's what I talked to Meg (Mallon) with a lot, is that I think once everyone was like ‘what is happening with her putting,' it kind of got to my head a little bit. I have to trust myself. I know I'm a good putter. I've been a good putter, and I can be."

Cristie Kerr followed up her opening round 69 with a steady performance on Friday, carding three birdies and one double bogey en route to a 1-under 71, leaving her one shot off the lead heading into the weekend.

"I played really well on the front, and unfortunately I made a double on 11," said Kerr. "Then I really bounced right back and made an amazing birdie on 12 and then a great birdie on 16."

She acknowledged the importance of her round and her ability to overcome some struggles mid-way through.

"Just a very important round for me," said Kerr. "One that said I wanted to keep up that consistency, and I did that today. Even though I had some adversity in the middle of the round, I was able to bounce back from that."

When asked about the scores other players in the field were putting up throughout the day, Kerr said the only thing she is concerned about is taking care of her own business. She said she will try to not look into course set up as much either, figuring the USGA will change things up for the weekend.

"I've just gotta take care of my own job and really execute my course strategy," said Kerr. "It would have been a couple more under if a couple of those putts had gone. But you know, I got over par through the middle of the round and I was able to shoot under par. That's a really huge thing for me. And going into the weekend who knows how they're going to set it up. So you can't really predict."

Already with a national championship on her resume, Kerr said she's not sure if having her name engraved on the trophy will necessarily help this weekend. She pointed to first-time major champion on the PGA Tour, Webb Simpson, who recently won his first U.S. Open at the Olympic Club last month.

"I always draw on that experience, of course, but it's hard to predict what's an advantage and what's not an advantage," said Kerr. "You just don't know. Sometimes it's an advantage to not know that you can go out and win. You've seen that before. That's what happened with Webb Simpson at the Men's Open this year. So it's really hard to predict that."

But she admits that if the championship comes down to one hole, the ever intense veteran will have an edge on her competitor.

"If I'm staring down somebody on Sunday at the 18th hole, I think that experience really helps," said Kerr.

Lexi Thompson sits four shots out of the lead heading into the weekend at the U.S. Women's Open, but the 17-year-old experienced a week's worth of ups and downs en route to shooting 73 in Friday's second round.

Thompson carded five birdies, two bogeys and two doubles in her second round on the Championship Course at Blackwolf Run. But despite the interesting round that featured only nine pars, Thompson still finds herself with a strong opportunity to become the youngest major winner - male or female - if she can pull out a victory at this U.S. Women's Open. She would be 10 days younger than Young Tom Morris was when he won the British Open in 1868.

So what is Thompson expecting over the final two rounds here in Kohler, Wis. when only 65 players are left to battle for this year's United States championship?

"I'm not sure," Thompson said. "They might push a few more tees back and tuck some pins. That's what they do on the weekends. Maybe challenge us a little bit more."

Fourth-year LPGA Tour member Vicky Hurst got off to a red-hot start on Friday and was -4 through the first three holes after carding an eagle on the par 5 2nd hole and a birdie on No. 3.

"It was a good start," said Hurst. "I was pretty hot right off the bat, and played pretty steady throughout the middle of the round, and then I had a couple bogeys coming in, but overall very happy with my round."

Hurst, who is half Korean, said that the events that unfolded 14 years ago right on the course she's playing on this week inspired her to take up the game.

"Se Ri Pak was one of my idols growing up and she won here," said Hurst. "I think I remember watching her play, and I mean she's one of the main reasons why I started in golf. My parents got me into it because of her. And you know, she's out here this week. I'm not sure how she's playing, but it feels pretty good to be playing well on the course she won at."

Hurst said recent extra work on her putting has been the key to her strong play this week.

"I've been working a little bit out here especially with the speed, so I'm very happy with how my work has paid off," said Hurst. "I'm really just my lag putting has really improved from last week, and going into this weekend is still what I'm going to focus on."

Hurst saw herself in contention for her first major championship back in March when she headed into the final round of the Kraft Nabisco Championship four strokes off the lead and finished T11. She said the experience in Rancho Mirage has helped her feel more comfortable with the heat of competition at a major.

"Playing well at the Kraft especially going into Sunday and playing well, being at the top of a leaderboard at a major, I am feeling a little more comfortable being at the top of a leaderboard," said Hurst. "And going into the weekend, I mean pretty much going to stay with my game plan, not pay too much attention, but just focus on the shots that I have ahead."

Hurst has carded the best scores of her career at a U.S. Open this week, with rounds of 71-70 so far. Playing in her fifth national championship, she hopes to continue her strong play and to take in the sights and sounds from one of golf's biggest events.

"I'm staying pretty steady out there, but I have to pretty much take it all in when I'm walking up 18 and seeing myself at the top of the leaderboard," said Hurst. "It's really cool, especially this being the Women's Open."

Current leader Suzann Pettersen had an 8:28am Central Time tee time for the second round on Friday and said a miscue on setting her alarm clock had her wake up an hour later than she desired.

"I thought it was awfully light in the room when I woke up, at 6:40, an hour late," said Pettersen. "I don't know. I looked at the alarm clock, and I think instead of putting it 5:45, I put it for 6:45. I cut breakfast short and went straight to the green. Can't wait for a shower now."

The late start to the day did not seem to hamper Pettersen's play in the least. She said her shorter pre-round time slot actually helped her keep her mind sharp and gave her less time to over analyze her game before heading out to the course.

"For me breakfast is kind of my most important meal," said Pettersen. "I didn't really have time. I thought it was more important to get stretched and loosened up. Even though it's hotSometimes that's a good thing. You don't have time to think about stuff."

Yani Tseng still has a ways to go if she is going to complete the career grand slam this week at the U.S. Women's Open. But the five-time major winner hasn't played herself out of the tournament just yet.

Tseng fired an even-par 72 in Friday's second round and sits at 2-over heading into the weekend, seven shots behind leader Suzann Pettersen.

"Still not far back," Tseng said. "When you see the scores today, there is so many under par, so tomorrow, I believe on the weekend they're going to be much tougher. But I think this course I still can make lots of birdies out there. Just need to be patient and see tomorrow if I can shoot 4-, 5-under, get back to 2-, 3-under, that would be great."

Rolex Rankings No. 2 Stacy Lewis got off to a rough start in this year's U.S. Women's Open, shooting a 5-over 77 to mark her highest score since the first round of the LPGA LOTTE Championship Presented by J Golf back in April. It certainly was an uncharacteristic round for Lewis, who has tallied two wins and nine top-10s already this season.

So with the season that Lewis has been having this year and the tenacity she shows out on the golf course, it seemed no surprise that she recovered on Friday with a 3-under 69 to move to 2-over for the tournament.

"You know, I actually didn't play that bad yesterday," Lewis said. "I just kind of let a few things get to me. My attitude was not very good, and I came out today, I didn't really have anything to lose, and I knew I was playing well. So just a little better attitude."

Lewis said that the short turnaround between her first and second round actually helped her and didn't give her much time to sulk about her poor round. Instead, she focused on the task at hand on Friday and what she needed to shoot on the Blackwolf Run Championship Course to get herself back in the mix.

"I kind of looked at it as chipping away at the lead, so that makes me not focus on the cut," Lewis said. "That's what I did. If I can get to under par tomorrow, I think I'll be in a good spot. I'm happy I came back and played better today."

Thursday's first round at the U.S. Women's Open didn't go quite the way that Mel Reid hoped as she shot a 7-over 79. But the 2011 European Solheim Cup Team member bounced back well on Friday, posting a 69 to move to 4-over and make the cut in her second U.S. Women's Open championship.

"I played very good," Reid said. "Didn't really do much wrong. I felt like my swing was a little bit better than yesterday. I got a little bit tense yesterday. So just let it happen, played very steady.

While this week's tournament has provided a stiff test for Reid on the course, it's nothing compared to what's been going on in her personal life. The past month and a half has been very tough on Reid, who lost her mom, Joy, in a tragic car accident in Germany during a Ladies European Tour event in late May. Reid took four weeks off from golf after the tragedy but returned with a flourish, winning the Raiffeisenbank Prague Golf Masters in her first competitive tournament back.

Last week, the Reid family held a funeral for Joy which kept Reid's practice time on the golf course to a minimum but for the 24-year-old, her family has understandably taken precedence over her golf game. And Reid said she has been overwhelmed by the support that she's received from the golfing community during her family's time of grief

"It's been superb," Reid said. "From not just the LET, but from the LPGA. You know, past players, and the golfing world is like a big family because you are traveling with pretty much the same people week in and week out.

"I never thought anything like this would happen to me. But I mean, you know, like I said, the support is completely overwhelming and it really has helped. You know, everyone has been coming and giving me hugs. It just means that people care. To be fair, my mom had a big impact on a lot of people because she was kind of an on tour mom. My mom and dad used to come out to quite a lot of events, so they feel like it's a personal loss as well."

"I think I gotta go out and take care of my own job and forget about what everybody else is doing. It's not like football where you can tackle somebody; right? It's not like the Green Bay Packers up here." - Cristie Kerr

A total of 65 players made the cut, which fell at 5-over-par 149.

Morgan Pressel withdrew during Friday's second round due to a thumb injury. It's the second straight week that Pressel has had to withdraw due to the same injuryAmong the notables to miss the cut are 1994 U.S. Women's Amateur champion Wendy Ward, Rolex Rankings No. 10 I.K. Kim, LPGA and World Golf Halls of Fame member Juli InksterCo-first-round leader Brittany Lincicome followed up her opening round 69 with an 8-over 80 on Friday. Lincicome made the cut but barely, falling right on the cut line of 5-over-par.

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