PINEHURST — After two rounds last week, Martin Kaymer had pulled away from the field en route to the U.S. Open title.
It is too early to go ahead and crown Michelle Wie as the women’s champion, but at the rate she is going, it might be hard for the field to chase her down.
Wie fired back-to-back 2-under 68s Thursday and Friday and has a 3-shot lead heading into the weekend. Kaymer, on the other hand, had a 6-stroke advantage after two rounds and pulled away for an 8-shot victory.
It’s not that the USGA went out of its way to make scoring tough Friday by puting pins in difficult locations. When the second round started five players were under par, after the dust had settled, there were only two — Wie and Lexi Thompson.
“It was pretty similar to yesterday. I felt like a lot of tees were up forward,” Wie said. “There’s some hard pins, some easy pins. Yeah, it was playing pretty similar to yesterday.”
Wie wasn’t the only golfer to go low in the second round as five others carded under-par rounds. Thompson and Sakura Yokomine matched Wie with 68s. Thompson is three shots behind Wie, while Yokomine is six off the lead.
Amy Yang, who played with Catriona Matthew and Wie Thursday and Friday, shot a 1-under in the second round to get to even for the tournament. All three players in the grouping were under par for the day.
Yang thought her ability to keep her composure during the round helped vault her into contention.
“This kind of a tough course, you need to really be patient,” she said.
Following her opening round, Stacy Lewis credited being able to see Kaymer on TV with giving her a chance to see how she should play Pinehurst No. 2. Paula Creamer, who is tied for seventh, agreed with Lewis having the men play first last week gave the women a sneak peek how the course might be set up.
“Yesterday it was fiery, it was kind of crazy near the end,” Creamer said. “We were landing balls way short of greens and things. It was 5, 6 o’clock at night, so it never had water the whole day. But there’s some good pins. I feel like everybody knows where the pins are, because of last week. You know where to hit it and miss it, because they’re only within a couple yards of the guys, but it is playing difficult. There’s some birdies out there for sure, it’s just, it’s so hard when you have 8- and 9-irons in your hand and you’re normally firing at flags and you’re aiming 10 yards right of a pin just mentally that is tough to do. You feel like you got a scoring club in your hand and you’re still not going for a pin.”
Lewis added the best thing to do if you have a bad day is shake it off and bounce back over the next 18. Lewis shot a 3-under 67 to race out to a 1-shot lead on Thursday, but dropped into a tie for third with a 3-over 73 in the second round.
“You’re going to have a bad round on this golf course. It’s just the way it is,” Lewis said. “If that’s the worst I play this week, I think I’ll be all right. But, like I said, 1-under par, the last five holes and hit some good iron shots and I’m going to take that into tomorrow, because it’s there. I hit a ton of fairways today and I mean the swing’s not that far off. So just going to shore up the putting a little bit and we’ll be good for tomorrow.”
Sitting alone in sixth and five shots off the lead Ne Yeon Choi thought despite two afternoon showers Friday the course was still how the USGA wanted it.
“It’s still firm out there and the greens are still fast,” she said. “Especially when you hit a downhill putt, it’s really a delicate putt.”
Duke rising junior Celine Boutier added her experience at Donald Ross’ crown jewel will assist her when she plays on other courses.
Boutier finished her first U.S. Open at 13-over after carding a 76 in the first round and a 77 on Friday.
“Definitely I think they will seem a lot easier and if you play good on this type of course, you can play well anywhere,” Boutier said.
Reach sports editor Shawn Stinson at 910-997-3111, ext. 14 or on Twitter @scgolfer.