For all the interest in the men and women playing Pinehurst No. 2 in consecutive weeks, Michelle Wie and Lexi Thompson made the U.S. Women's Open more closely resemble the first LPGA Tour major of the year.
Wie held it together with two key par putts and finished with back-to-back birdies for a two-under-par 68 and a three-shot lead at Pinehurst, N.C. Thompson powered her way out of the sand and weeds and ran off three straight birdies to match Wie for the lowest score Friday.
They were the only players still under par going into the weekend, perhaps setting up a rematch from the first major of the year. Thompson soundly beat Wie in the final round at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.
“Definitely too early,” Thompson said with a laugh. “Thirty-six holes in a major, that's a lot of golf to be played, especially at a U.S. Women's Open.”
Wie, 24, made a 12-foot birdie putt on No. 8, and a 15-foot birdie on the par-five ninth to reach four-under 136.
“End of the day yesterday, I was thinking if I just did this again, that would be nice,” Wie said. “Finishing with two birdies is always great. It's a grind out there. It's not easy. Really grateful for the par putts that I made and some of the birdie putts that I made. I can't complain. I'll take it.”
Thompson, who beat Wie by three at Mission Hills, closed with four pars to reach 139.
Pinehurst No. 2 wasn't in much of a giving mood on another warm day in the North Carolina sandhills, with a brief shower in the middle of the afternoon that didn't do much to soften a dry, crusty golf course.
Stacy Lewis, the No. 1 player in women's golf who opened with a bogey-free 67, picked up a bogey on her first hole in a wild round of six bogeys, three birdies and a tough 73. A two-time major champion, she saw the big picture.
“I hung around, and that's what you've got to do at this tournament,” said Lewis, at even-par with Amy Yang (69) and Minjee Lee, the 18-year-old amateur from Australia who played bogey-free on the back nine to salvage a 71.
Lucy Li, the precocious 11-year-old and youngest qualifier in the history of the U.S. Women's Open, started with a double bogey for the second straight day and shot another 78 to miss the cut by seven shots.
Langley has second-round lead at Travelers
Scott Langley took the second-round lead in the Travelers Championship at Cromwell, Conn., by following his opening-round 64 with a second-round 65 to reach 11-under 129.
Winless in two seasons on the PGA Tour, the 25-year-old Langley had eight birdies, a double bogey and a bogey in the second round at TPC River Highlands.
Michael Putnam, Harris English and K.J. Choi were a stroke back. Putnam shot 63, the best round of the day. English had a 64, and Choi shot 65.
Patrick Rodgers, the former Stanford star making his pro debut, was five under after a 69. Cameron Wilson, Rodgers' college teammate who also was making his pro debut, missed the cut with rounds of 73 and 75.
Defending champion Ken Duke was three under after a 72.
Lehman leads Champions Tour with 65
Tom Lehman birdied four consecutive holes and finished with a bogey-free, seven-under 65 to take the first-round lead in the Champions Tour's Encompass Championship.
Finishing on the front nine, Lehman birdied Nos. 4-7 and closed with two pars at North Shore Country Club in Glenview, Ill. The 55-year-old Minnesotan nearly holed out for an eagle on the par-five sixth, leaving a six-inch putt, and ran in a 15-footer on the par-three seventh. He won the last of his seven Champions Tour titles in 2012.
Doug Garwood and England's Roger Chapman were a stroke back at 66, and Mark O'Meara, Sandy Lyle, Jeff Sluman, Michael Allen, Bart Bryant, Kirk Triplett and John Inman shot 67.
Colin Montgomerie, the Senior PGA Championship winner in his last tour start, had a 69. Charles Schwab Cup points leader Bernhard Langer shot 71. He had a double-bogey seven on No. 6. Defending champion Craig Stadler opened with a 73.
Ilonen leads Irish Open; McIlroy misses cut
Finland's Mikko Ilonen opened up a two-stroke lead at the Irish Open, at the end of the second round as Rory McIlroy failed to make the cut by one shot.
Ilonen added a two-under 68 to his course-record 64 in the first round to move to 10 under on the Fota Island Resort course in Cork.
Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell (66), England's Robert Rock (66) and Frenchman Romain Wattel (65) share second place at eight under. Padraig Harrington (67) is tied for eighth at six under.
The loss of Northern Ireland's McIlroy over the final two rounds was a blow to event organizers. His second-round 69 was a mix of a 10th-hole eagle, six birdies and a double bogey at No. 4 for an overall one-over 143. It is the second year in succession McIlroy has missed the cut in the Irish Open.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times