Golf is a fickle game. This is not news to Brittany Lincicome. She just wishes she didn't receive such a stern reminder at the U.S. Women's Open.
One day after an "easy" 69 at Blackwolf Run gave her a share of the first-round lead, Lincicome crashed to an 80 Friday and wasn't sure she would even be around for the weekend, though her 5-over 149 total made the cut on the number. She was at a loss to explain the disappointing turnaround in her fortunes.
"Yeah, I don't understand why. I did nothing right today," said the 26-year-old from Seminole, Fla., who has six LPGA victories, including two last year. "I couldn't drive the ball. I couldn't do anything right. That's obviously kind of frustrating. You go out and feel like you did so good yesterday and had no idea what happened today."
What happened, primarily, is that she hit just 10 greens, three fewer than yesterday, and she needed 33 putts to get around Blackwolf Run, six more than in the opening round.
"I felt ready to play. I have no idea what happened," Lincicome said. "It's so ... two ends of the spectrum. Obviously, very frustrating."
And Then There Were Three
A total of 28 amateurs started on Thursday, but just three will play the final 36 holes. The trio includes Lydia Ko of New Zealand, a 15-year-old who is the top-ranked female amateur; Emma Talley, 18, of Princeton, Ky.; and 17-year-old Alison Lee of Valencia, Calif., who didn’t get into the field until last Friday as an alternate.
Lee ground out eight consecutive pars to finish off a 2-over-par 74, which put her on the cutline of 5-over 149. She also shot five over par the first two days when she made the cut three years ago at Saucon Valley Country Club in Bethlehem, Pa. She finished that championship with a final-round 70 to tie for 26th place.
"I was just so excited because I missed last year," said Lee, who had to leave her sectional qualifier at Half Moon Bay, which gave the third and final spot to Mo Martin. Lee wound up as the first alternate. "[The 2009 Women’s Open] was a good experience and I learned a lot. Coming into this year, it wasn’t as nerve-racking as it was the first year. My mindset was to try to keep calm and do my best because that’s what you have to do out here on this tough course. You have to be patient with every shot and not think too much and I was able to do that today."
Lee had 16 pars, a birdie and a double-bogey 6 at the first hole. Playing late in the afternoon, she tried not to think about the cutline.
"I knew I had to play like yesterday or play a little better, and I was pretty much able to do that," said Lee, who has committed to attend UCLA in the fall of 2013. "It was really stressful at times. I tried not to think about the score. There was one point where I didn’t even know what I was shooting. I just tried to make pars … and don’t be too greedy."
Now she won’t have to stress about playing a scheduled U.S. Women’s Amateur qualifier Monday in California. By playing 72 holes, Lee will be exempt into next month’s event at The Country Club in Cleveland, Ohio. She already has qualified for the U.S. Girls’ Junior at Lake Merced Golf Club July 16-21 in Daly City, Calif.
Heat? What Heat?
There is always give and take between a course and the weather.
So while the heat broke slightly and warm breezes brushed over Blackwolf Run early Friday evening, the course that had been so receptive began to turn firm.
"Everything is starting to firm up and getting a little faster," said Gerina Piller, who shot a second-round 1-under-par 71 and is tied for 12th at even-par 144 heading into the weekend. "So obviously it is cooler now, but it's just definitely different from yesterday."
Piller, 27, of Roswell, N.M., noticed a change in course conditions when her wedge bounced instead of sticking into the ground on a couple of occasions late in the round.
Danielle Kang, 19, of Oak Park, Calif., shot a much-needed 2-under 70 to slip inside the cutline at 4-over 148, also noticed her shots running out more — but not for the firmness of the course.
"As it was getting later, my back started hurting more," said Kang, winner of the 2010 and 2011 U.S. Women’s Amateurs. "So I took a longer club and hit it softer. That made it run out technically. So I'm not exactly positive [it was getting firmer]. It's been in great shape all week."
In Unfamiliar Territory
Sandra Gal had never broken par in her four previous starts in the U.S. Women's Open and had never been closer to the lead than 15th place after the second round in 2010.
So the lanky German is in uncharted territory after 36 holes at Blackwolf Run, where she is tied for fourth place at 3-under 141, just two behind Pettersen.
"In the last month or so I've been a lot more comfortable with my game and I don't know, just being more comfortable out on the course," said Gal, 27, who has a home in Orlando. "It makes it easier to score, and obviously if you've played a few Opens, what it feels like out there, how to think your way around the golf course.
"You know, I really didn't have that many expectations, to be honest with you," said Gal after rounds of 71 and 70. "I'm really taking it one shot at a time and enjoying it out here."
Kane Is In
At 47, Lorie Kane, of Canada, knows she’s in the later stages of her career. On Friday, a 2-over 73 for a cumulative 149 was enough to get her into the weekend. She’s the oldest player to make the cut this week, and being told of that made her chuckle.
"I have to laugh at that because here’s the reason why: when people talk about my age, I tell them I have two ages. The one when I was playing as a 29-year-old, the other when I was about to turn pro. It’s when I was 30 and started on the [LPGA] tour."
Despite getting stung by an insect during her round, which forced her right wrist to swell, Kane said she was able to continue to focus.
Birdies On Her Mind
World No. 1 player and 2004 U.S. Women’s Amateur Public Links champion Yani Tseng is not one to rest on her laurels.
After shooting a respectable 2-over 74 in the first round, Tseng followed suit with an even-par 72.
On Thursday, she posted a double bogey and a triple bogey. On Friday, she avoided trouble for the most part, though she did have four bogeys.
"There is something I always can improve," said Tseng. "I even feel yesterday I played better. Only two bad holes, but today it could be much better, but still two more days to go, and I wish to make some more birdies."
Count Her As A Fan
Korea’s Se Ri Pak has frequently been touted as the idol of many up-and-coming Koreans on the LPGA Tour. Count Vicky Hurst as one of those fans. Hurst grew up influenced by her Korean mother. The two watched Pak’s heroics in the 1998 U.S. Women’s Open.
"Se Ri Pak was one of my idols growing up and she won here and I think I remember watching her play; she's one of the main reasons why I started in golf, and my parents got me into it because of her," said Hurst.
While playing golf on a U.S. Air Force base, Hurst’s mother’s water broke on the 16th hole. Hurst came into the world a couple of hours later.
After playing 14 holes in her second round, Morgan Pressel withdrew from the championship with a thumb injury. She shot 2-over-par 74 in Thursday’s first round.
David Shefter (email@example.com) is a senior staff writer at the USGA and Ken Klavon (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the USGA’s online editor. Stuart Hall is a North Carolina-based freelance writer and Dave Shedloski is an Ohio-based freelance writer.