Stephanie Meadow, Leona Maguire and amateur Olivia Mehaffey have all advanced to the weekend at the second women’s Major of the year, the ANA Inspiration in California.
Jordanstown professional Meadow leads the trio into the business end of the tournament at Rancho Mirage after she added a 71 to her opening 70 to reach three-under par.
The 27-year hit just five fairways but scrambled well with two birdies and a bogey on her card to trail Nelly Korda’s halfway lead by eight shots, back in a share of 22nd at minus-three.
Cavan professional Maguire managed two birdies of her own but gave both shots back in an even par 72. At one-over par for the tournament, Maguire finds herself just outside the top-50 and will hope to make an impression on the leaderboard with two rounds to go at Mission Hills.
And last but by no means least, Royal County Down and Tandragee amateur Mehaffey has made her first Major cut on the number at four-over par after she fired three birdies on her way to a one-under par 71 – super playing Olivia!
At the head of affairs, the numbers suggested a stress-free time in the desert for Nelly Korda, who had five birdies and a clean card Friday for a 5-under 67 to build a two-shot lead going into the hot weekend at the ANA.
The only fairway she missed was on her 11th hole, the par-5 second, and she was badly out of position the entire way until making an 18-foot par putt to escape her big mess. One hole later, after hitting a fat shot from the fairway, she again had to make a par putt from some 25 feet.
“I did not know what I was doing on those two holes,” Korda said. “I was happy those two went in. Golf is just all about momentum, so you roll one in here and there and it just makes it a lot easier.”
Until Thursday, Korda had never held a post-round lead at a major championship. Now, she is in prime position for her first major title heading into the weekend on the Dinah Shore Tournament Course.
She’s also doing it in near record-breaking fashion, as her 133 is just one stroke off the tournament’s 36-hole score record of 132 set by Pernilla Lindberg and Sung Hyun Park in 2018.
“I’ve been hitting it really good off the tee. Even off the fairway, I mean, I’m not missing it by much,” said Korda. “Like occasionally because it’s so grainy out here you catch it a little fat or you don’t catch it so clean, but honestly I’ve just been playing really solid golf.”
Korda was at 11-under 133, two shots clear of Mirim Lee, who also played bogey-free in the rising heat for a 65. Joining them in the final group is a daunting figure in these parts, Lexi Thompson, a past champion at Mission Hills who can overpower the Dinah Shore course.
The temperatures are trending that direction, too, with a forecast of around 105 to 110 degrees for the weekend.
The weekend will include five of the six amateurs, tying a record at this event. Leading the way was Gabriela Ruffels at 5 under, with Rose Zhang another shot back. Zhang won the U.S. Women’s Amateur last month to deny Ruffels back-to-back wins.
Full scoring HERE
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