by Jeff Skinner
The 2014 golf season just keeps getting better for the LPGA. With new tournaments, new sponsors, fresh new faces and plenty of publicity the U.S. Women’s Open started with much anticipation. So far it hasn’t disappointed at all.
With the women following the men at Pinehurst No.2 Mike Whan couldn’t have written a better script for the first two rounds. He should send the USGA a big thank you note.
The week started with plenty of buzz when the women invaded the practice range as the final groups headed out to finish the men’s Open. Then we were treated to the wonderfully refreshing Lucy Li who qualified at eleven years old and continued to captivate the media with golf clubs in one hand and ice cream in the other.
Then the top American player, world number one, Stacy Lewis goes out and takes the lead after day one calling her day “easy.”
Day two was a little tougher for Lewis but Whan wasn’t worried because the most popular female golfer in the land grabbed the lead. Michelle Wie, the only female that moves the needle in televised golf, put together two of her best rounds in years and carded matching 68’s for a three stroke lead. A three stroke lead over another popular American golfer, Lexi Thompson whose long drives and trendy outfits have garnered her own legion of fans.
To say the U.S. Women’s Open is off to a good start is an understatement. It is off to a great start.
Wie was thrilled to be able to get out early and get around Pinehurst in two under par again. “I can’t complain. End of the day yesterday I was thinking if I just did this again, that would be nice. But always finishing with two birdies is always great. It’s a grind out there. It’s not easy. Really grateful for the par putts that I made and some of the birdie putts that I made. I can’t complain, I’ll take it.”
Asked how badly she wants this championship she was frank but cautious,” Yeah, it’s definitely one of the Majors that I really want to win. I think the U.S. Open as an American is one of the most important tournaments. But at the same time it’s — Sunday is a very, very long time, far away. Just take it shot by shot. You really can’t think about Sunday, 18th hole, now. You have 36 holes to play. So I’m just going to go out there and just try and do what I did the last two days and just focus on every shot and try not to think too much about the past or the future, just really try to stay in the present.”
Even though she is in the lead she still plans on having fun,” You never really know at U.S. Opens. I’m just going to go out there and have fun. I’m really grateful for the opportunity that I have. Being in contention, having the clubhouse lead for now, I’m just really excited for the weekend. I’m really excited that I have chance and I’m going to have a lot of fun this weekend.”
Stacy Lewis who said she had an “easy” day yesterday found Pinehurst to be anything but easy today and shot 73, six shots higher than yesterday. “Well, I didn’t hit the ball very good to start. Then the putting just didn’t help. At a U.S. Open you’re going to have to make some 5- and 6-footers and that’s what I didn’t do today. I left — I hit some bad iron shots but I didn’t leave myself in that bad of places, I just didn’t putt very good, but I played really good the last five holes. So I hung around and that’s what you’ve got to do at this tournament.”
With Wie playing so well recently, Lewis said she knows she is playing great golf, “Well I think you look — yeah, I think — I look up to everybody. I think you look at the way Michelle has played the last six months and you look at her differently. I think she’s hitting the ball — she’s one of the best — I think she’s become one of the best ball strikers on TOUR. She hits it really consistent, she knows where the ball’s going, and she’s figuring out how to win. That’s the big thing. I don’t know, I think that we have become closer over the last few years and it’s good to — it’s great for the TOUR, it’s great for women’s golf that she’s playing well. That brings a lot of fans in. So I’m not surprised, I said coming into this year, I said Michelle was going to have a great year and so I don’t think it’s any surprise to everybody out here that she’s playing well.”
Li finished the week with back to back 78’s and certainly played respectable golf. True to her word she said she wanted to have fun and learn,”I’m really happy about how I played. I’m really happy with how I bounced back from the big numbers. I got birdies after I got like doubles and triples, so that’s what I’m really happy about. I learned a lot. I guess you have to be patient and, yeah, I learned a lot. But it’s been a great week, yeah.”
She left the press conference and went and had some more ice cream. We all should have the same attitude.