Wichanee two shots up at US Women’s Open
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Wichanee two shots up at US Women’s Open

Thai veteran still seeking first LPGA victory is one of just four players under par

Wichanee Meechai of Thailand plays a shot on the second hole of the US Women’s Open at the Lancaster Country Club in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. (Photo: Getty Images for LPGA)
Wichanee Meechai of Thailand plays a shot on the second hole of the US Women’s Open at the Lancaster Country Club in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. (Photo: Getty Images for LPGA)

LANCASTER, Pennsylvania - Wichanee Meechai of Thailand will take a two-shot lead into the third round of the US Women’s Open, the second major tournament of the year on the LPGA calendar.

The Bangkok native began her second round on Friday with four straight birdies before signing for a 3-under-par 67 at the Lancaster Country Club.

Wichanee is at 4-under 136 at the midway point of the championship, one of only four players under par. Andrea Lee of the US shot her second consecutive 69 to sit in second place at 2 under. Former US Open champions Minjee Lee of Australia (69 on Friday) and Yuka Saso of Japan (71) are tied for third place at 1 under.

They’re all looking up at Wichanee, a 31-year-old ranked 158th in the world who is still looking for her first win in eight years on the top tour in women’s golf.

“To be honest, before tee time, I was so nervous,” Meechai said. “I just talked to my manager, my hands were shaking, my brain just stopped working. But I was trying to commit to the shot. I know that the course is hard; I just go with the flow.”

Wichanee began her round on the back nine and dialled up a tight approach shot 6 feet of the cup at the par-4 10th hole. She one-upped herself at the par-4 11th, landing her second shot inside 5 feet. Then came a 5-foot birdie putt at the par-3 12th and another at the par-5 13th.

“To be honest, I don’t know who she was on the first four holes, but I’m glad that she came,” she joked.

She cooled off and bogeyed three holes before getting back on the birdie train at the par-4 fourth. Her final birdie was a 9-foot putt at the par-3 eighth — her longest birdie putt of the day.

Lee also started on the back nine, playing it in 2-over 37 before a hot streak of her own.

The 25-year-old Californian hit out of a fairway bunker at the par-4 first and watched her ball roll from right to left up the green, finding the pin and dropping for an unlikely eagle.

“I pulled my driver off the tee but had a pretty good lie in the bunker, so I knew if I just hit it solid and got it up anywhere on the green I could two-putt and make a par,” Lee said. “As soon as I hit it, I knew it was a good shot.”

It gave her a shot of momentum and she birdied the next three holes to get to 4 under for the week, but a pair of late bogeys brought her back.

Saso, the 18-hole leader and 2021 US Open champ, had two birdies to three bogeys on Friday. Minjee Lee, who won in 2022, had two birdies and two bogeys on the back nine (her first nine) and came home strong, with a birdie and eight pars on the front nine.

“There’s definitely higher scores out there. Pars and birdies feel like gold right now,” Lee said.

Amateurs Megan Schofill and Asterisk Talley are part of a large tie for fifth at 1 over. Talley, a 15-year-old high school freshman, is the youngest player in the field yet she’s having a better week than many of the best golfers in the world.

“I feel like my expectations were to at least make the cut,” Talley said. “That’s what I wanted to do. Then if I achieved that, I wanted to get low amateur. But I feel like that’s still achievable even after today’s round.”

The most notable player to miss the 8-over cut line was World No. 1 Nelly Korda, who followed Thursday’s disastrous 80 with an even-par 70 to miss the weekend by two shots.

“There’s not many low scores out here, and I was pretty far back,” Korda said. “I tried to give it my all. That’s what I do with every round. I had nothing to lose, so that was kind of like the mentality. Just go for it.”

Former champions Brittany Lang (9 over), Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn (10 over), Chun In-gee of South Korea (12 over) and Allisen Corpuz (12 over) also missed the cut.

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