SOUTHPORT, England (AP) — Mo Martin has a plan for every golf course she plays, and it’s working at Royal Birkdale.
The 31-year-old American is among the shortest hitters in women’s golf, so she figured out the widest part of the fairways and keeps hitting them. It has produced 10 birdies in two days, a pair of 3-under 69s, and a three-shot lead going into the weekend at the Ricoh Women’s British Open.
“It’s always nice when your plan pans out,” Martin said. “So it’s fun to be here.”
Michelle Wie’s plans did not include her searching for a flight home before the weekend. The U.S. Women’s Open champion missed her first cut this year by not making enough birdies to account for too many times she had to scramble for par. She had rounds of 75-78.
She still has that shiny trophy from her first major at home, though that was a small consolation.
“It does still feel good,” she said. “But I’m disappointed in myself. I wanted to play well here.”
Martin was at 6-under 138, three shots ahead of Beatriz Recari (67) and So Yeon Ryu (70), who joined Martin as the only players to break par both days at Birkdale.
Martin has never won on the LPGA Tour, and her plans figures to get a serious test over the final two days of a major, especially if the weather gets ugly.
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MIGHTY MO: The UCLA grad passed her first big test Friday. She was among the last to tee off, when the wind usually is at its strongest. The 18-hole leader, Ayako Uehara, faded badly with a 44 on the back nine for a 79 to slip nine shots out of the lead.
Martin produced a steady diet of fairways and greens. She was bogey-free on the front nine with two birdies. After back-to-back bogeys early on the front nine, she atoned with birdies on two par 5s for a 69.
“Every hole, you have something to think about. Every single shot, you have something to think about,” Martin said. “But there’s fairway there, and there’s green there, and that’s what I’m focusing on. … My caddie and I just figured out where the widest parts of the fairway were, where I would have the best approaches into the greens.”
WIE AND ARNIE: Michelle Wie learned some history at Royal Birkdale on her way to missing the cut.
She was on the cut line when her tee shot on the 16th went right and landed in a blackberry bush. She thought for a second she might get free relief because of a metal plaque in the ground that might impede her swing. But it wasn’t in the way by mere inches. She took a penalty drop and wound up making double bogey.
Wie was too disgusted to read what the plaque said.
It was for Arnold Palmer, who in the 1961 British Open slashed a 6-iron out of that bush and onto the green to make par. He won by one shot to win his first British Open. And that daring move added to the lore of his go-for-broke nature that makes him such an endearing figure in the game.
Wie listened to the details of Palmer’s shot and smiled.
“Yeah,” she said. “Didn’t happen for me.”
ACCEPTING MISTAKES: So Yeon Ryu, a former U.S. Women’s Open champion, ran into trouble on the second hole and took double bogey. She expects a few bad breaks, and some high numbers. The key is to move on, and that she did. Ryu didn’t drop a shot the rest of the way and chalked up another solid round that put her in the hunt.
“Links golf is always hard to predict,” Ryu said. “Even when I hit the great shots, still can finish at the worst place. And when I hit the bad shots, still can finish close to the pin. So it’s really important, whatever the result, we need to accept it and just keep working. Today, I made a double bogey on the second hole, but I knew it was just unlucky. I just accepted it and then think about next holes, and it helped a lot.”
BAD STARTS: Lexi Thompson had the roughest start of them all. The Kraft Nabisco winner hit her opening tee shot out of bounds to the right. She reloaded and hit the next one out of bounds. The third shot was in play, but the ride was still bumpy. She made a 10. Just like that, she went from even par to 6 over.
Thompson battled back with birdies and finished with a 77 to make the cut by one shot.
GREAT FINISHES: Vikki Laing of Scotland was inside the cut line by one shot when she came to the par-5 17th. After a good drive, she hit 5-wood from 240 yards into the hole for an albatross, the rarest shot in golf. That gave her a 68, and she was at 2-over 146.
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