China’s Feng ex­tends US Women’s Open lead

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

China’s Feng Shan­shan shook off per­sis­tent rain and the com­mo­tion of a pres­i­den­tial visit on Fri­day to fire a two-un­der par 70 and stretch her US Women’s Open lead to two strokes.

Feng had three birdies and a bo­gey for an eight-un­der par 36-hole to­tal of 136. That was good enough for a two-stroke lead over South Ko­rea’s Lee Jeong-Eun6, Amy Yang and Choi Hye-Jin, who all shared sec­ond on 138.

Choi, a 17-year-old am­a­teur, teed off on 10 and joined Feng atop the leader­board af­ter a burst of four straight birdies at 18, one, two and three. But she faded with bo­geys at the sev­enth and eighth to join her com­pa­tri­ots on six-un­der.

Lee, last year’s KLPGA Rookie of the Year play­ing her first tour­na­ment in the United States, set an early tar­get with a sec­ond straight 69 on a rainy morn­ing at Trump Na­tional Golf Club. She birdied the sec­ond, took her lone bo­gey at the fifth but closed the front nine with a birdie and added back-to-back birdies at the 14th and 15th.

She was even­tu­ally joined by Choi and Yang, who went into the sec­ond round one stroke be­hind Feng and fired a sec­ond-round 71. Feng said she wasn’t both­ered by the some­times heavy rain that fell through much of her round, and she didn’t get too dis­tracted to the ar­rival of US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, who has made his name­sake club in Bed­min­ster a fre­quent week­end re­treat this sum­mer.

Trump ar­rived in a mo­tor­cade fresh from a Bastille Day trip to Paris, and watched from an en­closed view­ing area near the 15th green, of­fer­ing a few waves for cheer­ing fans who ea­gerly snapped his pic­ture.

“I heard peo­ple like kind of scream­ing, so that’s what I was try­ing to find out, like why they were scream­ing,” Feng said of the move­ment around the green, where mar­shals had to re­mind the gallery that play was con­tin­u­ing.

“But I was still re­ally fo­cus­ing on my game,” Feng said. “I didn’t re­ally get dis­tracted.” Trump’s visit marked the first time a sit­ting pres­i­dent has at­tended the US Women’s Open, and the US Golf As­so­ci­a­tion was un­re­pen­tantly wel­com­ing de­spite the con­tro­versy sparked by Trump’s con­tro­ver­sial re­marks about women dur­ing his pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

While there were fears his visit would spark protests, fans at the course were sup­port­ive and play­ers ap­par­ently un­fazed. The morn­ing rain-on the heels of Thurs­day thun­der­storms that dis­rupted play and caused the first round to be car­ried over un­til Fri­day morn­ing-was more of a chal­lenge.

WELL-PRE­PARED

Feng coped ad­mirably, play­ing her first 10 holes in even par, with one birdie and one bo­gey, be­fore back-to-back birdies at the 11th and 12th. “I played prob­a­bly the first nine holes in the rain, but my phone told me it was go­ing to rain all af­ter­noon and I was pre­pared,” she said. “I re­ally didn’t pay at­ten­tion to the weather and just con­cen­trated on ev­ery shot.” The rain­soaked course did play longer, Feng said, which she admitted “made me feel like I was older”.

Among Feng’s clos­est pur­suers, Yang is seek­ing a first ma­jor ti­tle af­ter 16 top-10 fin­ishes. Lee-the ‘6’ in her name dis­tin­guish­ing her from five other KLPGA play­ers with the same name-is hop­ing to make a splash in her first US tour­na­ment. Choi, the sec­ond-ranked am­a­teur in the world, is also hop­ing to stay in the hunt at the week­end for what would be a sen­sa­tional ma­jor win. The trio shar­ing sec­ond were fol­lowed by an­other South Korean, with Bae Seon-Woo alone in fifth af­ter a 69 for 139.

World num­ber one Ryu So-Yeon carded an even par 72 to join four play­ers shar­ing sixth on 140 that also in­cluded South Korean Chun InGee, Ja­pan’s Haru No­mura and Spain’s Car­lota Ci­ganda. —AFP

BED­MIN­STER: China’s Shan­shan Feng hits an ap­proach shot on the sec­ond fair­way dur­ing the sec­ond round of the US Women’s Open Golf tour­na­ment Fri­day, in Bed­min­ster. — AP

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