Olivia Mehaffey cruised through to the weekend rounds on her first LPGA Tour appearance as a professional on U.S. soil, adding an even par 72 to a one-over 73 to ensure a Sunday payday at the Cambia Portland Classic.
Playing on invite this week in Oregon, the Royal County Down and Tandragee star started from the 10th tee on Friday and was four-under par through 12 holes, highlighted by an eagle on the par-5 18th. Inside the top-10 for a time, Mehaffey couldn’t see it out, carding two bogeys and a double in her last five holes before signing for a more than respectable 72.
At one-over par, Mehaffey remains in line for a really great week, tied-23rd having found 12 of 18 greens in regulation and needing 32 putts to leave her nine shots off the lead at one-over par.
Mehaffey is again looking right at home in pro company having already impressed since turning pro at the tri-sanctioned World Invitational held at Galgorm Castle and Massereene where she tied-17th before safely advancing through to Stage Two of LPGA Q-School set for October.
It wasn’t such a good day for Jordanstown’s Stephanie Meadow, however, who carded a second round 78 for a nine-over tally to miss the cut by three.
Meanwhile, Rolex Rankings No. 2 Jin Young Ko lived up to that title on Friday, carding six birdies and just one bogey for a second-round 67 to hit the front at eight-under heading into the weekend where she holds a one-stroke advantage over Gemma Dryburgh and a three-stroke lead over Carlota Ciganda in third.
“I did a great job first two rounds and this course is not easy, so fairways and greens are really narrow so I had to focus on my shot,” said Ko, who is playing for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics nearly six weeks ago. “But I did a great job so I’m happy. I’m looking forward the weekend.”
Dryburgh made the turn with three consecutive birdies in her 3-under 69 on Friday. Sitting just one stroke off the lead, this is the best 36-hole position of her LPGA Tour career. It’s no coincidence that the Scottish player thrived in today’s blustery weather conditions, saying that it felt like she was back home in Aberdeen.
“It was quite tough out there. It was quite windy. Reminded me of home a little bit, especially my back nine, the front nine,” said Dryburgh, a three-time winner on the Rose Ladies Series. “It’s a bit more open around, there so it’s kind of tricky to the get the wind on the back nine, but round there it’s quite open so made it quite tough.”
Ciganda ended up barefoot at one point in her round of 71, taking off her shoes and socks to wade into a water hazard on No. 15. With her ball sitting up on a patch of grass just shy of the water, Ciganda knocked her 54-degree wedge to 15 feet and converted an unconventional birdie.
“That was a big plus, because I’m thinking about par with up and down and maybe a bogey, so that was a great birdie,” said Ciganda, who is looking for her first win since a pair of victories in 2016. “Had a couple good chances coming on 16 and 18, but I think it’s always good to shoot under par, especially on this course.”
Seven players are tied for fourth at -4, with Alana Uriell joining that group thanks to a flurry of five consecutive birdies to end her round.
“My putter just today felt hot. I was reading things really well and been working on speed a lot this week, so I think that all kind of came together,” said Uriell, a University of Arkansas graduate. “Then also we were like in a later group and it was getting dark and I knew that we had to finish, so I was like, Just choose it and trust it, and that really inspired the last few holes.“
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