The five teenagers playing in The Evian Championship mirror the international flavor of women’s pro golf as it is today. Lexi Thompson (USA), Moriya Jutanugarn (Thailand), Lydia Ko (New Zealand), Charley Hull (England), and Xi Yu Lin (China) are all young in their careers and they’re playing against a field of experienced, seasoned professionals. What are they taking in to their second round at The Evian?
Kiwi Ko, the only amateur in the group, is also the only one among the youngsters who’s near the top of the leaderboard at the end of the first round. Ko went to the clubhouse with a 68 on her card, three shots under par, 3 shots off the lead. She hit 10 fairways, made 11 greens in regulation, and finished her round with 24 putts. She escaped with 2 bogies, one of them the devilish 18th hole. Ko’s starting the 2nd round in a lovely position, in a 4-way tie for the 6th slot on the board, and keeping very good company with Aussies Karrie Webb and Lindsey Wright, and American Michelle Wie. This isn’t Ko’s first Major and she’s playing a good game.
Lexi Thompson had a fairly good 1st round too She carded a 72, 1 shot over par. Like Ko, she had 2 bogies, one of them the 18th hole that is proving a challenge for many players. Thomson had some trouble getting off her tee shots. She hit only 8 fairways although she made 16 greens in regulation, but she used a whopping 35 putts to finish her round. If Thomson can get her driver straightened out and stay in the short grass she’ll be better positioned to zero in her approach shots and reduce her putts. She needs birdies to pull ahead on Saturday and she needs to get to the negative numbers to ensure she’ll make tomorrow’s cut.
Hull has some serious problems in her first round. She shot 74 and is starting the 2nd round 3 strokes over par. Her 4 birdies couldn’t compensate for a pair of bogies and a pair of doubles, one of them on that 18th hole. She had trouble off the tee, hitting only 8 fairways like Thompson, but not making sufficient recovery in her 2nd shots. She only got to 11 greens in regulation. She finished her round with 30 putts, considerably better than Thompson, but she tangled with the mountain course and spent too much time getting from the tee to the green. If Hull hopes to make the cut she needs to settle down, get focused, and play that game we saw her deliver in her Solheim match against Paula Creamer.
Jutanugarn struggled today. She carded a 77, 6 shots over par. Two birdies just couldn’t counterbalance 2 bogies and 3 doubles, although Jutanugarm did par the 18th hole. Her problems, like Hull’s, were taking place before she got to the greens. She hit only 6 fairways and made only 10 greens in regulations. By the time she picked up her flat stick she’d used so many shots that 31 putts didn’t help. She needed to 1-putt every hole to make up for her tee box and fairway mistakes.
Xi Yu Lin
Like Jutanugarn, Lin shot a 77 today, hitting only 9 fairways from the tee, making only 10 greens in regulation, and using 33 putts to finish her round. She collected 3 birdies but she gave up 7 bogies and a double. Lin and Jutanugarm may both be suffering from a bad case of tournament anxiety. They both have better games than they played today. But the course was wet and playing long, the competition was intense and intimidating, and golf is as much a mental as a technical game. It must take incredible courage and a real hunger for the game of golf for these young athletes to tee it up with the likes of Inbee Park, Stacy Lewis, and Suzann Pettersen.
Let’s cheer them on through their 2nd round. If they miss the cut the world won’t end and this certainly won’t be their last shot at a Major!