Azahara Munoz (Credit to LPGA)
American Stacy Lewis shot the round of the day on Friday, closing with four birdies on the final four holes for a 5-under 66. Lewis, who came to The Renaissance Club off a top-10 finish at last week’s Marathon LPGA Classic, is no stranger to links golf, having won the 2013 AIG Women’s Open title at St Andrews.
“I'm really excited. It's as good as my body has felt in a really long time,” said Lewis, a 12-time LPGA Tour winner who last reached the winner’s circle at the 2017 Cambia Portland Classic. “Just had more of an understanding of what's going on and it's all added up to some good golf so far.”
Lewis sits atop the leaderboard at -5 through 36 holes, tied with Spain’s Azahara Munoz. Munoz was bogey-free through 17 holes, but a stumble at 18 dropped her to -2 on the day and into Saturday’s final group alongside Lewis.
“I've been playing pretty good the last couple weeks,” said Munoz, whose only LPGA Tour victory came at the 2012 Sybase Match Play Championship. “I just always feel I have to be a little patient and I think this week I'm doing a really good job at that. I just need to keep doing what I've been doing, just try not to force things and just let it happen.”
Jennifer Song holds solo third at -4, with Amy Olson and Olivia Cowan tied for fourth at -3. First-round leader Nicole Broch Larsen followed Thursday’s -4 with a +2 on Friday and is one of four players tied for sixth at -2.
The cut came at +5, with 70 players advancing to the weekend. Notables to miss the cut include 2017 Ladies Scottish Open champion Mi Hyang Lee (+6), Scotland’s Catriona Matthew (+6) and 2019 AIG Women’s Open champion Hinako Shibuno (+14).
The Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open is the first of two consecutive events in Scotland. Next week, the Tour heads to Royal Troon for the season’s first major, the AIG Women’s Open.
AZAHARA MUNOZ MAKING THE MOST OF RARE SCOTTISH OPPORTUNITY
It’s been more than eight years since Azahara Munoz hoisted an LPGA Tour trophy, winning the 2012 Sybase Match Play Championship in New Jersey. Halfway through this week’s Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open, the Spanish star has put herself in prime position to finally end that drought, tied for the lead with Stacy Lewis heading into the weekend.
“I'm feeling good. I've been hitting the ball really well,” said Munoz following her second-round 69. “Just been playing really steady, lots of fairways, lots of greens, and today I actually didn't hit the ball as good as yesterday but still I was pretty much hitting every green or just off the green but putting. So I think that's the key in this kind of golf courses, just don't want to get in trouble and that's what I've been doing.”
Munoz is enjoying every second of this opportunity to play in Scotland, a chance that oddly came about because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I love Scottish golf. The only reason I've never come to this tournament is it's always the week before the British and it's my only chance to go home to Spain, so I always take the week off and go home and see my family,” said Munoz, who won the 2008 British Women’s Amateur title in Wales. “I grew up playing the British Girls' and British Amateur, and we used to love coming over here and I love it. It's where golf started, and it's such a good challenge because you have to be so precise and I really like that.”
STACY LEWIS RIDES LOVE OF LINKS GOLF TO THE LEAD
It’s a different mindset when the wheels touch down north of Hadrian’s Wall. In America, Stacy Lewis is one of those players who acts like patience is an overrated virtue. One well-struck shot that ricochets into a bad spot and you can almost see the redness rise around her ears. But not in Scotland. Once she sets foot on the sandy soil of the linksland, Lewis becomes a different player.
“I truly love playing in Scotland,” Lewis said after firing a 5-under 66 on Friday to share the early second-round lead at the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open, a round that included four consecutive birdies from 15 through 18.
“I love links golf,” she emphasized again. “All the different shots you get to hit, the different weather. You have to battle the elements which we did yesterday. I was just, more than anything, excited to come play.”
Lewis, the last American to be ranked No. 1 in the world, has a storied history in the Home of Golf. In 2013, she won the AIG Women’s Open, her second major championship, on the Old Course at St Andrews with a shot that defined her career: a 5-iron at the Road Hole that stopped 3 feet away in the final round. But her love of the links golf goes back further than that.
ANDREA LEE RELISHING RETURN TO SCOTLAND AT #ASILSO
Andrea Lee is hitting her stride in her rookie year on the LPGA Tour. Last week at the Marathon LPGA Classic, the 21-year-old finished in a tie for fifth, guaranteeing her a spot in next week’s AIG Women’s Open, a goal she made when making her way to Toledo for the Tour’s resumption. After an even-par day after the second round of the Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open, Lee now sits tied for sixth heading into the weekend.
“Today the conditions were much nicer, but you know, still had to really stay patient out there, I had a lot of 30-, 40-foot putts for birdie and had to just lag them up there and two putt all of them and not be too aggressive. So kind of took the opportunities when I had them, made a couple birdies, but other than that, it was just a pretty steady round of golf today,” said Lee, who made two birdies on the front nine and hit 12 of 13 fairways.
This isn’t her first time visiting the Home of Golf; her most recent trip came while a member of the Stanford women’s golf team. Her coach Anne Walker, a Scottish native, tries to take her team to play in her home country once every four years, a treat that Lee reveled in. “It was so much fun. I mean, we played some of the best courses around. Got to play St. Andrews, one of the Gullane courses, Kingsbarns, and North Berwick, just to name a few, so it was quite the experience. So I'm excited to be back,” said Lee.
Lee said she thought of that experience when flying over for the ASI Ladies Scottish Open, and truly appreciates the opportunity in front of her while in North Berwick. “Yesterday, teeing off, I was like, it's so cool, I'm in the Home of Golf and I'm in Scotland,” said Lee. “It's just so cool to finally be out here and competing as a professional. So I'm really taking that all in this week and just trying to enjoy every moment.”
Rolex Rankings No. 96 Stacy Lewis (71-66)
Rolex Rankings No. 51 Azahara Munoz (68-69)