Neshanic Station, N.J. – Veteran Lisa McCloskey, 20, of Houston, Texas, fired a 5-under-par 67 on Tuesday for a 7-under-par total of 137 to take the clubhouse lead for stroke-play medalist honors at the 2012 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links being conducted at the 6,221-yard, par-72 Neshanic Valley Golf Course.
McCloskey was one stroke ahead of Steffi Neisen, 20, of New Prague, Minn., after the morning rounds. Neisen shot a 4-under-par 68 for a 36-hole total of 138. Kelsey Vines of San Antonio, Texas, and Annie Park of Levittown, N.Y., are at 4-under 140.
First-round leaders Lakareber Abe of Angleton, Texas, and Cindy Ha of Demarest, N.J., were among the 78 golfers with afternoon starting times. Both golfers opened with 68s on Monday.
McCloskey, the runner-up at the 2010 WAPL, was a member of the 2012 USA Curtis Cup Team which suffered a recent narrow loss to Great Britain and Ireland at The Nairn Golf Club in Scotland.
If McCloskey captures the qualifying medal, it won’t be the first time. In 2008, she fired a second round 63 to win medalist honors at the U.S. Girls’ Junior Championship conducted at Hartford Golf Club.
In Tuesday’s round, McCloskey recorded six birdies against one bogey. Short-iron approach shots close to the hole gave her short birdie putts on hole Nos. 2, 6, 7, 14 and 18. Her longest birdie putt came on the first hole, where she hit a 9-iron to within 15 feet.
McCloskey’s only bogey came at the par-4 fifth after her approach shot from the rough rolled over the green.
“I feel good,” McCloskey said after her round. “I didn’t play very well yesterday and my first nine was pretty poor but my putting has carried me through the two days.”
It has been an exhausting tour of golf competition for McCloskey. A few weeks ago her University of Southern California women’s golf team led the NCAA Division I Championship with only a few holes to play, but finished second to Alabama.
After that competition in Franklin, Tenn., McCloskey narrowly missed qualifying for the U.S. Women’s Open. Taking a one-stroke lead after the first sectional qualifying round, she missed by two strokes. Then her USA Team lost the Curtis Cup by a one-point margin after leading the three-day event going into Sunday singles.
“I think I’ve pretty much recovered,” McCloskey said. “To me, this is just like another tournament.”
Neisen shed tears of joy after she putted out on the 18th green for a 68. It is her lowest score in a USGA championship.
“I’m still a little bit in shock,” Neisen said. “I didn’t have good practice range sessions but I didn’t try to do anything spectacular today and I did a good job of missing my shots in the right places.”
Neisen is a rising junior at the University of Nebraska. She bogeyed two holes on Tuesday from bunkers but made six birdies on putts ranging from 2 to 10 feet.
“I was happy,” Neisen said. “I’ve never been so calm. My dad (Chris, her caddie) was awesome. He got the yardages and wind direction and did a good job of letting me play the game. He doesn’t play anymore and I think his favorite thing is to watch me play golf.”
The low 64 scorers after the completion of 36 holes on Tuesday will advance to the match-play rounds, which begin on Wednesday. The championship concludes with a 36-hole final on Saturday.
Rhonda Glenn is a manager of communications for the USGA. Email her at email@example.com.