Women's Open Primed For A Compelling Weekend
KPMG Women's PGA Champion Chun headlines a strong leaderboard at Muirfield. Plus, some forecast intrigue, TV Times, Muirfield's 9th, Tweets and State of the Game with Matt Griffin.
An idyllic first two rounds at Muirfield included only a slight weather bias favoring the early-late times. Otherwise, it was a perfect start to the 2022 AIG Women’s Open with plenty of stars positioned for the weekend and even better, rounds were under six hours! Take that, men.
In Gee Chun took advantage of a calm afternoon window to post 66 and a one-stroke lead just weeks after her KPMG Women’s PGA triumph. She will go out at 3:45 p.m. BST Saturday with Madelene Sagstrom (65) after co-leader Ashleigh Buhai (65) bogeyed the 18th hole. A par would have given Buhai the new course record. She gets a Saturday pairing with still-going-strong legend Inbee Park, who posted her 15th sub-70 round in the Open.
Chun set a pre-round goal of no bogeys after a bet with her caddie who said he’d pay her $100. Friday at Muirfield, only a bogey at the 6th prevented Chun from collecting. Her incredible back nine 31 featured birdies at the 11th, 13th, 15th and 17th.
Wind helped at the 13th and she’s forever grateful.
“I have great reason why to love the Scottish now because my ball was sit on the edge of the hole today,” she said. “And after like three seconds it dropped in. Now I can enjoy more like Scottish greens.”
Chun also credited a friendly grouping with Georgia Hall and Jessica Korda.
“Jessica said she loves to hear my sound from my swing,” Chun said, noting that Korda implied she watched Chun’s swing on Instagram for inspiration.
Korda came back with 74 after an opening 66 all while dealing with luggage sitting in the Zurich airport. She’s been forced to borrow pants from younger sister Nelly Korda and Megan Khang. Other than getting a few things from an emergency Footjoy shipment, Korda’s been without vital accessories like handwarmers and vitamins. But she does have AirTags!
For Sagstrom, the course-record tying round was all about “putting, putting, putting” along with the 29-year-old’s continued improvement in links golf.
“It was hate at first sight, mega hate at first sight,” she said after a 6-under-par round. “I remember particularly well we played a British Am in Wales and the weather was horrendous and I couldn't keep the ball low to save my life. I figured it out from there. This is my sixth season as a pro, so it's taken me a little bit of time.”
Sagstrom was the runner-up in 2021’s Women’s Open at Carnoustie.
The 36-hole cut seemed destined to be +2 most of the day before the wind kicked back up and made several holes more difficult, including the par-4 18th.
In Gee Chun -8 (68-66)
Madelene Sagstrom -7 (70-65)
Ashleigh Buhai -7 (70-65 )
Inbee Park -6 (69-67)
Hannah Green -5 (71-66)
Miyuu Yamashita -5 (69-68)
Hinako Shibuno -4 (69-68)
Minjee Lee -4 (68-70)
Celine Boutier -4 (68-70)
Jeongeun Lee6 -3 (71-68)
Marina Alex -3 (70-69)
Jessica Korda -2 (66-74)
Brooke Henderson -2 (70-70)
Louise Duncan -2 (67-73)
Nasa Hataoka -2 (71-69)
Leona Maguire -2 (71-69)
Lydia Ko -1 (71-70)
Soyeon Ryu E (70-72)
Georgia Hall E (70-72)
Rose Zhang (a) E (72-70)
Nelly Korda +2 (70-74)
Jennifer Kupcho +3 (73-72)
Missed Cut (+3)
Anna Nordqvist (74-72)
Stacy Lewis (77-70)
Jin Young Ko (76-71)
Yuka Saso (75-73)
Meghan MacLaren (77-71)
Catriona Matthew (76-73)
Ingrid Linblad (a) (74-76)
Anna Davis (76-75)
Lexi Thompson (75-77)
The course will fast and firm with what looks like plenty of wind for the leaders. This means a decent chance for early players to move up. As for Sunday, The Met Office gave a “low confidence” to forecast details 🧐:
TV Times And Coverage
For U.S. viewers, weekend action starts on USA Network from 8 am to noon ET, NBC noon to 3 pm ET. Warning, it’s as bare-bones as it can be as all funds must help prop up no-growth Peacock, so they’re only using the IMG produced World Feed with no other extras like a wind gauge, flyovers, drone or even exclusive post-round interviews (they’re relying on Sky for that).
Worse, the camera positions do little to show off the player perspective on tee shots at Muirfield. And that’s a shame given how many holes look so great from the tee but so “eh” from a rear-green camera angle.
At least the announce team is a pleasant listen who know the leaders and course well.
Coverage on Sky Sports for UK viewers begins at 1 pm BST through the conclusion.
Muirfield And The 9th
No surprise: Muirfield has been sensational. The fast conditions and sound setup separated the field without too much drama, though the 428-yards 18th is mysteriously giving players extra fits (4.448 avg). Laura Davies made a 10 there in round two.
Overall, the women have faced a more balanced presentation of hole locations than last year at Carnoustie (too simple) or a few weeks ago at St Andrews (relentlessly tucked).
The attractiveness of every hole at Muirfield from the tee and fairway makes so many holes enticing, but the nuances in greens and bunkering mean there is little need to tuck pins to keep players on their toes.
“You just can't go at any pins really,” said Louise Duncan after opening with 66-73. “I don't think we purposely went at any pins out there, maybe one. But you just need to putt it in the right spot and 2-putt and take your par and if it goes in for birdie, good, and if not, take a par because par is your friend.”
Of note, the option-laden par-5 ninth should be pivotal this weekend. It’s always been one of greatest par-5’s on the planet—even while the governing bodies hibernated on distance regulation—where every shot has something vital to pull off and plenty of decisions to be made.
Playing into the wind during rounds one and two, the R&A wisely moved tees forward to the 495-yard range instead of the 556-tee built for the 2013 Open (that embarrassing forced the rebuilding of an ancient boundary wall). Moving markers up not only prevented the possible embarrassment of players failing to reaching the fairway into a stiff headwind, but rewards the tee shot placement up the left side. This brings the sinister second shot combination of boundary wall and bunkering into play.
For two rounds, the 9th averaged a respectable 4.989 with 54 birdies, no eagles and six double bogeys or worse.
When watching this weekend, take note of the pit about 40 yards short of the green. It was installed by Tom Simpson in his redesign of the course. He explained the thinking in his 1934 renovation plan:
“A small semi-central pot bunker to be made short of the green, which will be the best and and most hated bunker on the whole course. Let it be called ‘Simpson’s Folly’. Scale plans will be provided.”
Now that’s taking ownership!
The Fried Egg posted this recent look at the 9th as it was playing just a few weeks ago:
Telegraph Sport @TelegraphSportOutcry over BBC putting Women's Open golf highlights on 'graveyard shift' @jcorrigangolf https://t.co/w7tvVY7ifr
State Of The Game With Matt Griffin
The Australian plays a majority of his golf on the Japan Tour and missed The 150th Open cut by two despite nearly overcoming the less fortunate side of the draw. We discussed his play, the Old Course, Cameron Smith, the extra-slow first round, his change to a few medal spikes to combat slipping, and much, much more.
You can check out the latest State of the Game wherever fine fine podcasts are available!
Enjoy the golf from magnificent Muirfield. It should be fun,