Yuka Saso turned in a one-under par 71 and stayed well within striking distance of new leaders halfway through the Women’s British Open Friday at the Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland.
Unable to exploit to the fullest the benign conditions at the course known for its fearsome reputation, the reigning US Women’s Open titlist gunned down three birdies against two bogeys for a two-day total of 139 – just two shots off American Mina Harigae and England’s Georgia Hall, who fired a 67 and 69, respectively.
The Fil-Japanese who has already over $1 million in earnings since turning pro last year followed up her hot 68 in opening round with back-to-back birdies on the 4th and 5th holes but closed out her frontnine with a bogey.
She dropped another stroke on the 12th before recovering by knocking in her third birdie of the day on the 14th which was enough for her to draw level with American idol Lexi Thompson who carded a 70.
They were tied for fifth to 11th places with England’s Leona Maguire (67), Denmark’s Nanna Koerstz Madsen (69), Thailand’s Moriya Jutanugarn (67), and another American in Yealimi Noh (69).
Hall and Harigae are up by one over fellow first round leader Korean Kim Sei-young and American Lizette Salas who produced 71 and 69, respectively.
Olympic champion Nelly Korda of the United States and Madelene Sagstorm slipped from joint first to a share of 12th to 17th places with Japanese Hinako Shibuno (70), Australian Lee Min-Jee, Canadian Brooke Henderson and Su Oh.
With little more than a breeze and plenty of sun, Carnoustie has yet to live up to its billing as one of the world’s toughest courses.
But that could change if the harsh weather forecast for the North Sea coast of Scotland this weekend does indeed hit the links.
“I think it makes it more interesting for everyone if it’s windy,” said the 25-year-old Hall. “It’s a truer test and I am excited at the thought of playing in rougher conditions.
“Some of the other players might not be so used to tough, links weather but I know I can do it. I also know that I am more experienced than I was in 2018.”
Harigae had seven birdies — including one at the last — in a round of 67.
At the age of 31, she has won seven titles on minor Tours but is still awaiting a first LPGA victory.
Winning at Carnoustie would also seal her dream of being selected for the US team to play Europe in the Solheim Cup. (With a report from AFP)