The indigenous peoples called this place Sahalee, meaning “High Heavenly Ground.” History doesn’t record their words for Thick Devilish Forest or Tight Fiendish Fairways.
Or Torrential Afternoon Downpour.
But the golfers at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship might have some suggested translations for those specific circumstances after Friday’s second round, in which only five golfers finished the day under par.
And the 36-hole cut line (top 70 golfers including ties) was at plus-7, highest for any LPGA event his year.
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Two golfers, first-round leader Brooke Henderson and the rallying South Korean Mirim Lee -- came away tied for the lead at minus-2
As the sunny and cool morning gave way to a drizzly afternoon and then an early evening deluge, it might have been predictable that a cold-blooded Canadian golfer might be one of those coming out on top.
Henderson, an 18-year-old Canadian, shot 2-over -par 73 to go with her 4-under 67 Thursday.
Henderson made several long putts on the back-nine to hold a one-stroke lead heading into 18, but failed to coax in another lengthy par putt and fell back into the tie with Lee.
Henderson, at 5-foot-4, looks like she could be playing on a high-school golf team. But Friday she proved herself as an alley fighter, pushing back competitors and ignoring the varying atmospheric challenges.
“To be tied for the lead through two rounds in a major championship is pretty cool,” Henderson said. “But I know I didn’t play my best today, so I’m looking forward to having a good strategy and being able to execute tomorrow.”
While Henderson plays an adventurous game, Lee was coolly steady with her 2-under 69.
Henderson’s first round included three bogeys, five birdies and a hole-in-one. The ace earned her a free car, which she presented to her younger sister, Brittany.
Friday, she birdied No. 3 to stretch her lead to three strokes, but then bogeyed No. 4 and 5 to open the door for the rallying Lee, who matched Henderson at minus-2 most of the rest of the round.
Lee, a 25-year-old with two LPGA wins on her resume, was a little deeper in her round than Henderson when the heavy rains hit at 5:30. On No. 6, her 14th hole after starting on the back-nine, Lee birdied to edge one stroke ahead of Henderson.
Lee bogeyed her 17th hole, though, while Henderson drained a 20-footer on No. 15 to save par and then nailed an 18-footer at No. 17 to regain the lead.
Lee probably summed up the day for a lot of golfers when she was asked about the challenge of the course in the changing weather. “Really perfect, and then really difficult,” Lee said. “Really narrow … rough is tall … greens are fast.”
Three others were a stroke behind the two leaders in the race for the $525,000 winner’s share of the $3.5 million purse for this LPGA major tournament.
American Gerina Piller sank a 40-foot putt on her 18th hole to get to minus-1 with a 69 on Friday. Brittany Lincicome added a 70 to her opening-round 71 to stand at 141.
The looming threat to all the leaders is Lydia Ko at minus-1. Ko, ranked No. 1 in the world, is on a streak of winning two straight major tournaments.
Afterward, she elaborated on what a difficult day it was for the golfers.
“This course is tough enough without the wind and everything that was going on out there,” Ko said. “It was really tough.”
Other favorites struggled, too. Ariya Jutanugarn has won three straight tournaments, but shot a 75 on Friday. Lexi Thompson, the world No. 3, stood at plus-7 to barely make the cut.
The biggest name to miss the cut was newly inducted LPGA Hall of Fame member Inbee Park was going for a fourth straight women’s PGA title. After a 1-over 72 on Thursday, she ballooned to 9-over as she continues struggling with the effects of an injury that damaged ligaments in her left thumb.
“I thought that I could play really well this week and I thought that I was ready, but I just wasn’t,” Park said.
Did the Hall of Fame news this week make it hard to come out and compete hard on Friday? “Well, I say I think I was maybe too happy,” Park said. “I got congratulated by a lot of people until the late night.”
At Sahalee Country Club, Sammamish
So Yeon Ryu
Complete scores, 5B