A tight, compacted leaderboard, a small field of elite players, and a near-idyllic setting make the perfect combination for an exciting round of golf. And so it was at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational Presented by Banamex at the Guadalajjara Country Club today. Thailand’s Pornanong Phatlum, who held a slim 1 shot lead going into the 2nd round, had company when everybody was settled in the clubhouse this afternoon with their margaritas.
Swede Anna Nordqvist and South Korean So Yeon Ryu, who were both 2 shots off Phatlum’s lead at the beginning of the 2nd round fired up their putters and pulled even with Phatlum for a share of the lead going into the third round. Nordqvist and Ryu were paired for the 2nd round and played off each other as they worked their way up the board.
Nordqvist who is looking to capture her first LPGA Tour victory since the 2009 LPGA Tour Championship Presented by Rolex, had the flat stick working as she fired a second-round 5-under 67 that included six birdies and one bogey.
Lexi Thompson had the best round of the day. The American teenager pulled out the game that took her to victory last month at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia and put it to work again at the Guadalajara Country Club, going to the clubhouse with a bogey-free 64 and a leap up the leaderboard from a share of 16th to a share of 4th place with Gerina Piller and Inbee Park.
Thompson’s very engaged with the fans and has a fan following at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational. She goes out of her way to sign autographs and interact seems to naturally build relationships that endure from year-to-year. One of her fans from last year presented her with a drawing of Thompson holding a trophy today. Could Thompson’s fan be predicting the future?
Below the leaders, the field stretched out a bit during the 2nd round. Going into the 2nd half of the tournament there’s a 16 shot spread between Phatlum, Nordqvist and Ryu at the top and Taylor Collins at the bottom of the board. Collins is the Symetra Tour player who earned her spot in the field at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational by winning Golf Channel’s Big Break Mexico. With rounds of 74 and 77, Collins is anchoring the bottom of the leaderboard, but she’s also gaining some valuable experience and learning how to manage her game in high stakes, pressurized competition.
Defending champion Christie Kerr found her game today. Kerr finished the 1st round 5 shots over par. She carded a 67 today and climbed up off the bottom of the board. But that 1st round will be hard to overcome. Kerr needs eagles as well as birdies to get back into contention.
The Contest Within the Contest: Rolex Player of the Year
Inbee Park stayed steady on her game, carding a 2nd bogey-free 68. She’s still 2 strokes ahead of Suzann Pettersen, who carded 68 today, 2 strokes better than her 1st round. The Norwegian needs to turn on the heat and fire up her clubs if she wants to stay in contention for Rolex Player of the Year. She trails Park by 38 points in that race. A win at the Lorena Ochoa would get her close if Park finishes outside the top 10.
With Park playing a conservative game and avoiding the big mistakes that come from taking risks, which is all she needs to stay ahead in the race, the pressure’s on Pettersen at this point. But the Rolex Ranked No. 2 Pettersen has demonstrated her ability to take control during the last half of a tournament. She plays well under pressure. Can she do it this time, with such high stakes?