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Viking makes the cut at Open

Golf: Valencia’s Lee finishes second round at 5-under, will play the weekend

Posted: July 7, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: July 7, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Valencia High’s Alison Lee shoots during the second round at the 2012 U.S. Women’s Open at Blackwolf Run in Kohler, Wis. on Friday. Her 5-over just made the cut. Valencia High’s Alison Lee shoots during the second round at the 2012 U.S. Women’s Open at Blackwolf Run in Kohler, Wis. on Friday. Her 5-over just made the cut.
Valencia High’s Alison Lee shoots during the second round at the 2012 U.S. Women’s Open at Blackwolf Run in Kohler, Wis. on Friday. Her 5-over just made the cut.

By Signal Staff and wire services

Valencia’s Alison Lee knew scoreboard watching wasn’t going to help her make the cut at the U.S. Women’s Open — she just needed to concentrate on how she played, one hole at a time.

And that’s just what she did.

Lee ended the third day of the tournament at 5-over, landing right on the cut line to qualify for the weekend.
“I knew I had to play like yesterday or play a little better,” she said. “And I was pretty much able to do that. It was really stressful at times. I tried not to think about the score. There was one point where I didn’t even know what I was shooting. I just tried to make pars, and don’t be too greedy.

The Valencia High School senior-to-be notched one birdie, on the 197-yard hole 13, and finished at 2-over on the day.

“Coming this year, my mindset was to try to keep calm and do my best because that’s what you have to do out here on this tough course,” Lee said. “You have to be patient with every shot and not think too much, and I was able to do that today.

Lee, who entered the tournament one of 28 amateurs, is one of just three amateurs to move on to the weekend – along with Lydia Ko (+2) and Emma Talley (+4).

She sits in a tie for 56th place overall, but is within striking distance for low amateur.

“That would be great,” she said. “I am probably last place in the field, I just want to play as well as I played today and yesterday and just do what I did today. Just go for pars, and birdies will come.”

Suzann Pettersen sits atop the leaderboard at 5-under, with Michelle Wie and Cristie Kerr one stroke behind.

Pettersen, the Norwegian star ranked sixth in the world, shot a 4-under 68 at Blackwolf Run on Friday and moved to 5 under for the tournament. But Wie was even better on the day, carding a 6-under 66 to move to 4 under and put herself in position to break out of a season-long slump.

Wie was tied with Cristie Kerr, the 2007 Open winner, one stroke off the lead.

Pettersen was playing in the group directly behind Wie, giving her a pretty good view of what turned out to be an impressive display of accurate approach shots and made putts.

“She was fist-pumping, every putt she looked at,” Pettersen said.

Wie said she doesn’t spend much time thinking about the attention she received as a high-profile child prodigy in the early 2000s, or whether some fans had written her off since then.

“I don’t know if anyone gave up on me or not,” Wie said. “I’m sure some did and some didn’t. But I never gave up on myself, and today was a good reminder to myself that I can do (it) and I still have it.”

Kerr, who was tied for the first-round lead at 3 under with Lizette Salas and Brittany Lincicome, had a 71.

“I always draw on that experience, of course, but it’s hard to predict what’s an advantage and what’s not an advantage,” Kerr said of her previous Open win. “You just don’t know.”

Sandra Gal, Inbee Park and Vicky Hurst shot 70 to reach 3 under.

Salas, a 22-year-old recent Southern California graduate, had a 73 to drop to 2 under. Mika Miyazato also was 2 under after a 71.

Lincicome had a miserable day, shooting an 80 on Friday to fall to 5 over.

“I did nothing right today,” Lincicome said. “I couldn’t drive the ball. I couldn’t do anything right. I couldn’t putt.”

Seventeen-year-old Lexi Thompson shot a 73 to top the group at 1 under.

Top-ranked Yani Tseng was 2 over after a 72.

Second-ranked Stacy Lewis recovered from a first-round 77 to shoot a 69 on Friday, putting her 2 over. Third-ranked Ai Miyazato, the winner last week in Arkansas, was even par after a 74.

Defending champion So Yeon Ryu shot a 71 and was 1 over.

Se Ri Pak, the Open winner at Blackwolf Run in 1998, also was 1 over after a 73.

Seeing Wie’s name near the top of the leaderboard will ring a bell with casual golf fans, even if they haven’t heard from her in a while.

Wie was 12 years old when she qualified for an LPGA Tour event in 2002 — making her at the time the youngest player ever to do so. She went on to compete in a handful of men’s tournaments, but never turned her early stardom into consistent success. She has two career LPGA Tour victories.

Now she’s 22 years old, a recent Stanford graduate — and, at least before Friday, struggling on the course.

Wie has missed six of eight cut times this season, although she says she has been feeling better about her game.

“The last couple of weeks it started to feel good,” Wie said. “Things were coming. My scores weren’t showing up as well. But it’s a work in progress. Still a long way to go.”

And Wie knows she’s a long way from a potential victory Sunday, but is excited to have something to shoot for beyond simply making the cut.

“The fact that you’re in contention to have a chance to win the U.S. Open is a big deal,” Wie said. “I’m so grateful I have that chance right now. I’m really looking forward to seeing the crowds tomorrow and experiencing it all again.”

Pettersen said Wie should be given some space to find her game at her own pace.

“I think you should give her a break,” Pettersen said. “She just graduated, four years in college. That’s pretty impressive to do that on the sideline of trying to compete out here. So now it’s obviously a little different world for her. Now it’s all about golf, and she has to kind of find her schedule, how to kind of work it out the best way for her.”

Pettersen, meanwhile, believes her own game is in good shape.

“My game is very solid,” Pettersen said. “My ball striking is good. My short game is good. And my putting has been really good so far.”

Her day got off to a hectic start when she overslept and had to rush to make her tee time, skipping breakfast.

“For me breakfast is kind of my most important meal,” Pettersen said. “I didn’t really have time. I thought it was more important to get stretched and loosened up. Even though it’s hot. It’s fine. Sometimes that’s a good thing. You don’t have time to think about stuff.”

The intense heat and humidity players and fans dealt with in Thursday’s first round eased only slightly on Friday. The final two days of the tournament are expected to be more pleasant.

“Hopefully we’re done with the two hot days, and they’re all calling for a cooler weekend,” Pettersen said. “Which I’m all for. It’s been two really hot days.”


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