Lydia Ko has avoided the disasters of day one and jumped back up the leaderboard after two rounds of the US Open.
Ko carded a one-under 71 to move from a share of 83rd into a tie for 26th at Pebble Beach, with her solid round this time not being blotted by a quadruple bogey, after Friday’s adventure on the fifth hole.
This time around, she bogeyed the problematic fifth – one of four bogies on the card – but negated that with five birdies to still be in the hunt.
While she is 10 shots off the lead held by Bailey Tardy, she is only four shots off fifth place, meaning any backwards step by the leading quartet could see Ko come into the mix.
However, Ko would be in fifth place already if not for her troubles on the fifth hole, something she is painfully aware of.
“It was a lot better than yesterday, but apart from being five-over on No 5 I’ve played really solid.
“Yesterday was kind of a day where I didn’t do that much wrong, but you don’t make up-and-down on a few approach shots and then a few loose shots here and there and not able to convert a few birdies. That was the difference.”
Ko said the ability to make some crucial birdies helped in round two but she didn’t feel like there was much difference between her rounds of 76 and 71.
“I just played a little bit better, but that’s weird. That’s golf. I feel like that’s what’s been happening the last few weeks is not a lot wrong, but it’s just a few shot swings, and you realise, oh, that’s like four or five shots different to the day before, so I’m just trying to make it a little tidier.
“I know the good is good, so just making sure that the bad is not too bad and keep it in play, and I’m excited to be able to play the weekend here. It’s such a beautiful place, an iconic location for us to have the US Open. I would have been pretty gutted to have not been able to play on the weekend.”
Everyone will be chasing Tardy on the weekend, who holds a two-shot lead at seven-under.
Tardy hasn’t finished in the top 20 in her rookie year on the LPGA Tour. Now she has the 36-hole lead at the biggest event in women’s golf. And there was more to her good timing. Tardy was in the first group out, before the wind got strong enough to send scores soaring.
Tardy is one of only six players who remain under par going into the weekend, with even stronger wind in the forecast. Of those six, only Nasa Hataoka faced the flag-snapping wind of the afternoon. Hataoka shot 74 and sits at one-under alongside Leona Maguire.
Jin Young Ko, the world No 1, missed the cut, as did No 4 Lilia Vu, who won the first LPGA major of the year and didn’t break 79 in her two days at Pebble Beach.
Tardy has made only four cuts this year, her best finish a tie for 23rd in Hawaii. Her only professional victory was two years ago on the LPGA’s developmental tour. She is No 455 in the world.
And she was not the least bit surprised when she walked off the 18th green leading Allisen Corpuz (70) and Hyo Joo Kim (71) by two shots.
“I’ve always believed in myself to win any tournament that I enter,” said Tardy. “I’m good enough to be here, and I’ve been on the LPGA, so I feel like I definitely have the game to hang with the best in the world.”
The best in the world have some work to do.
Second-ranked Nelly Korda shot 73 and made the cut with one shot to spare, leaving her 12 shots behind. Rose Zhang was eight shots behind, but had only 10 players ahead of her with 36 holes to play.