On an eventful day at Kingsmill's River Course, the numbers fell so low that the tournament record was matched twice. Yet with all that movement on the leaderboard, the world's best player had no interest in leaving her spot at the top.
With her driver working all afternoon — well, most of the afternoon — Lorena Ochoa shot a 6-under 65 Friday to add to her lead in the Michelob Ultra Open. Ochoa goes into today's third round a 36-hole tournament record 13-under, ahead by three shots over South Koreans In-Kyung Kim and Song-Hee Kim and American Cristie Kerr.
It wasn't a perfect day for Ochoa, who bogeyed two of her last four holes to leave room for drama. But she'll take it.
"I was a little disappointed with the finish," said Ochoa, already a two-time winner this year. "But I want to see the good things. There were a lot of birdies and a lot of good pars. I was much better with my driver today, and hopefully I can continue in that direction."
By the time Ochoa teed off shortly before 1 p.m., the red numbers were everywhere. Song-Hee Kim had matched the Michelob record with an 8-under 63, and In-Kyung Kim had shot 7-under. And for the moment, they shared the lead after 36 holes at minus-10.
Starting at No. 10, Ochoa made par on her first three holes. But with birdies on 13, 14 and 15, she pulled her into a tie for the lead. Then, on 18, she dropped a 35-foot putt to go 11-under.
"Once I started making birdies, I felt very comfortable," she said. "It was important to get those first couple of birdies to get me going."
If not for bogeys at Nos. 6 and 9, Ochoa would be 15-under and this tournament would be all but over. Instead, she ended up in the rough on 6 and hit a bunker on 9.
It was a day for low scores.
Forty-four players shot in the 60s Friday, including the top 13 on the leaderboard. Eleven shot 66 or better — including Song-Hee Kim and Kerr, who became the sixth and seventh players in tournament history to card 63s.
"The greens are amazing considering the amount of rain they've had," said Kerr, the 2005 Michelob champion. "Usually with wet conditions, you get a lot of spike marks or whatever, but the greens have been great.
"When you know you have a good lie, sometimes you can make the average score about a shot lower or something per round per person. And if you're hitting it moderately well and putting well, you can throw up a low number."
After making four bogeys Thursday, Kerr had only birdies and pars Friday. She was 3-under for the day after her first nine holes before making birdies on four of her next five. None were all that dramatic — her longest birdie putt all day was from 15 feet.
"I think I played a lot better than (Thursday)," Kerr said. "I had been hooking the ball and kind of sorted that out today. I've been putting well all year, so if I give myself a lot of chances on the greens, I'm going to make a lot."
In-Kyung Kim had a good first round with a 3-under 68, but the difference in the second round was her play on the par-5s. On Thursday, she made par on each of them. On Friday, she had two birdies and an eagle.
She ended up with her lowest round ever on the tour. And at 64-68—132, she has the best 36-hole score of her career.
"I played a solid round today," she said. "I played very well yesterday, too. I just putted better today. I made some 20-footers, which was good. I can't complain about today's round.
Song-Hee Kim (69-63—132) simply pitched birdies all day. Only of one them came on a long putt — she drained a 30-footer at No. 8. She just missed an eagle on the par-4 No. 11, when her second shot stopped a foot short of the hole.
"The weather was perfect," she said. "The irons, my driver, my putter, everything was perfect."
The cut was set at 1-over with 75 players continuing on.
Starting with her wire-to-wire win two weeks ago in Mexico, Ochoa has led the LPGA Tour's last six rounds. But the last person who considers this event to be over is Ochoa.
"Tomorrow's a new start, and I'm going to play like I'm behind by two or three shots," she said.
"I never like to think I'm winning."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times