Marathon Classic Presented by Owens Corning and O-I
Highland Meadows Golf Club
Friday - Second Round Notes
July 18, 2014
Rolex Rankings No. 231 Laura Diaz (-11)
Rolex Rankings No. 2 Lydia Ko (-8)
Rolex Rankings No. 55 Lee-Anne Pace (-8)
Rolex Rankings No. 244 Rebecca Lee-Bentham (-7)
Rolex Rankings No. 9 So Yeon Ryu (-7)
Rolex Rankings No. 26 Mo Martin
Just when it appeared like 39-year-old Laura Diaz’s return to the top of an LPGA leaderboard after a first-round 62 might be a temporary blip in a nice early week story, she birdied three of her final four holes to emerge from a three-way tie for the lead with a three-shot lead after the second round at the Marathon Classic Presented by Owens Corning and O-I. Diaz’s 2-under 69 has her at 11-under-par with world No. 2 Lydia Ko and Lee-Anne Pace chasing at 8-under.
The 2012 winner here So Yeon Ryu and Rebecca Lee-Bentham are four shots back of the lead in a tie for fourth at 7-under.
Three other times Diaz has led this event after two rounds – 2009, 2003 and 2002 – but faded on the weekend and finished tied for 42, tied for 8th, and tied for 3rd those years, respectively. That 2009 lead was the last time she’s been in this position heading into a round on Saturday and she was admittedly nervous in that position on Friday.
“For me, it was just a challenge because I haven’t been in this position in a very long time. For sure haven’t had cameras on me in a long time,” she said. “So I was anxious for them to go away I think in a funny kind of way.”
Keep playing like she has so far and there’s no chance the cameras are departing. The mother of two has two career victories – both in 2002 – and her last top-10 finish came four years ago at the 2010 LPGA Tour Championship where she tied for fifth.
More unnerving than the cameras for Diaz should be the presence of Ko on her heels. The precocious 17-year-old three-time tour winner has watched as fellow members of the Rolex Rankings top-three Stacy Lewis and Inbee Park have racked up victories – three for Lewis and one for Park – since Ko’s win in late April at the Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic. If this star-studded season of winners so far is any indication, Ko’s about to provide an answer to Lewis and Park this week after back-to-back rounds of 4-under 67.
“Yeah, you know what? Yeah, I had two solid rounds. I thought I played pretty solid today and yesterday,” Ko said. “Hopefully I can continue that through the weekend.”
Defending champion Beatriz Racari shot a 3-under 68 Friday and is seven shots back of Diaz’s lead at 4-under-par for the tournament. World No. 1 Stacy Lewis, who was born in Toledo, is nine back at 2-under-par for the tournament.
FINDING HER PACE
South Africa’s Lee-Ann Pace finds herself in unfamiliar territory on the LPGA Tour this week: on the leaderboard on the LPGA Tour. Pace has honed her game in recent years on the Ladies European Tour and has learned how to win. She has eight career victories on the LET and finished first on the Tour’s money list in 2010.
Pace carded six birdies and three bogeys en route to a second-round 68 on Friday and sits three back of the lead.
“I felt like I played really well,” said Pace. “Yeah, I’m very happy about the position. I would like to be in contention on the weekend. That’s when the fun starts, right? So hopefully I can keep hitting the ball like I am and make a couple of putts on the weekend, and you never know.”
Pace picked up bogeys on the 11th and 15th holes to test her confidence late in the round, but the 33-year old said finishing birdie-birdie on Nos. 17 and 18 was all the momentum she needed heading into the weekend.
“After that rollercoaster, like you said, it makes a big difference finishing birdie birdie,” said Pace. “Makes you feel a lot better going into tomorrow. I think back nine is definitely a little bit easier, more scorable, so very happy about this finish.”
After finishing T22 at the 2013 LPGA Final Qualifying School, Pace earned conditional status for the 2014 season. The South African has made eight LPGA starts this year with her best finish coming last week at the Women’s British Open, a T29.
“I think my driver is very straight. I hit a lot of fairways. That’s been going on for quite sometime now. Last five weeks I’ve been progressively getting better and better,” said Pace.
She’s ranked tied for fourth in the field this week in greens in regulation (83.3%) and gave credit to her iron play.
“My iron play is really good this week, but obviously got this very nice, lovely green grass after the British Open,” said Pace. “It makes a big difference. Yeah, the greens are more receptive in the morning.”
The unusual par 34-37 layout at Highland Meadows can tax a player early on the front nine with only one par-5 and three par-3s, so Rebecca Lee-Bentham was happy to take off on the back nine Friday.
She birdied the 10th hole (her first), reeled off three straight pars and then proceeded to really get it going. She birdied No. 14, 16, 17 and 18 to get within one of the lead making the turn. She would tie Laura Diaz, who hadn’t teed off yet, with a birdie on No. 2 but wasn’t able to hold it on the way in. She bogeyed No. 3 and then three-putted on the par-5 7th to finish with a 4-under 67 and just one shot back of the lead. Still, when it’s her first time on the leaderboard this season, it was hard to do anything but smile exiting the scoring tent Friday.
“I’m playing well. This is the first tournament I kind of got my name up on the leaderboard. Kind of a new experience for me,” she said.
She made the cut in her last start but had missed seven in a row coming into that event and had struggled this year. The Canadian’s best finish on tour up to this point was a tie for 28th at the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open.
However, she’ll think back to last year for the weekend.
“Finishing last year at the Evian Championship tied for 11th is kind of what I’m drawing back on, being on the leaderboard, staying focused,” she said.
I SEE NO CHANGES
Women’s British Open champion Mo Martin knew she needed to make one thing a priority early on this week: a good night’s sleep. The 31-year old continued her solid play in Friday’s second round and kept herself in contention for the weekend with an even-par 71. She’s in a tie for 14th at 4-under par and sits seven shots off the lead.
“I left a few more birdie putts out there than I did yesterday,” said Martin. “Hit a few edges and maybe misread a few. Still solid round.”
Martin said she received a few looks in the airport during her travels from England to Toledo following her first LPGA win and major victory but said nothing has seemed to changed.
“Nope. Nothing has changed,” said Martin. “Signed a few more autographs.”
But someone at Highland Meadows wanted to make sure she knew about her fan club in northwest Ohio.
“Somebody yelled, ‘You’re the queen on the green!’” said Martin. “That was a first. Made me laugh.”
20 INCH BLADES ON THE IMPALA
With one swing, Haru Nomura became the owner of a new car Friday. Any player that scores a hole-in-one on the 14th hole this week will become the winner of a new 2015 Chevrolet Impala, and when Nomura grabbed a 6-iron and swung, the ball ended up 175 yards away in the bottom of the hole.
CHEERS TO THE WEEKEND
A total of 77 players made the cut which fell at 1-over-par 143.
MISSING THE CUT
Highland Meadows was not kind to some of the game’s biggest names this week. Michelle Wie missed her second-consecutive cut after missing the weekend at the Women’s British Open last week. Wie posted rounds of 74-76 and missed the cut by seven strokes. Other notables to miss the cut: Angela Stanford (72-72, +2); Gerina Piller (72-74, +4); Azahara Munoz (77-74, +8)
IN FORM FOR THE CROWN
The inaugural International Crown will be staged next week outside of Baltimore at Caves Valley Golf Club and many players in the field are sharpening their games this week in Toledo. Nine players who will be representing their respective countries are currently in the top-30 after 36 holes and within eight shots of the lead.
So Yeon Ryu/Republic of Korea (-7)
Lindsey Wright/Australia (-5)
Katherine Kirk/Australia (-5)
Caroline Hedwall/Sweden (-5)
Cristie Kerr/United States (-5)
Candie Kung/Chinese Taipei (-5)
Beatriz Recari/Spain (-4)
Belen Mozo/Spain (-3)
Pernilla Lindberg/Sweden (-3)
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“A lot of the Golf Channel cameras were out and I was waving. They get in my face and I don’t really know what to do. I say, ‘Hi, kiddos, I love you.’ That kind of stuff.”
- Laura Diaz on trying to wave to her kids
Rolex Rankings No. 2 Lydia Ko
Q. Another good round today; 67.
LYDIA KO: Yeah, you know what? Yeah, I had two solid rounds. I thought I played pretty solid today and yesterday.
Hopefully I can continue that through the weekend.
Q. Course play differently today?
LYDIA KO: No, I don't think so. The course condition itself is in really good condition. I don't think it played that differently.
Other than I think the wind direction was opposite way.
Q. Are you as calm and composed out there as you seem to be?
LYDIA KO: No, I try. I try and be calm. You know, that's what you have to do. Just I guess being overly happy or overly angry, that's not going to help me. That's what I think, so I try and stay calm.
Q. What do you need to do to keep this going through Sunday?
LYDIA KO: Hopefully I can hit the ball like I did today and make some putts. If I play like I did the last few days, I think I'll be in a good position.
Q. Is it easier in the morning than the afternoon?
LYDIA KO: Well, yesterday the wind in the afternoon, it didn't get I guess more windier by us playing in the afternoon. I don't know what it will be like today.
But, no, I think there wasn't much wind the last few days. It was fun just playing.
Rolex Rankings No. 9 So Yeon Ryu
Q. What was it about today?
SO YEON RYU: I think today tee shot was pretty great, so I had a lot of great chance to make great iron shot.
I missed couple of birdie putt, but still, at the same time, I made a lot of long birdie putts.
So I think more about like combination. I still need to be more working on my iron shot today.
Q. Having been two years removed from winning this tournament and being set up nicely for the weekend, how much do you love this place now?
SO YEON RYU: You know, thing is these days I definitely can feel my game is improved, but (indiscernible) not good as that much.
So I really look forward that this one is going to be next one.
Q. You're a seasoned golfer. What's the goal for you on the second day of the tournament?
SO YEON RYU: I don't know. For me every day is just new day. I'm not really matter if this is final round or first round or second round. For me, it's same day every day.
Q. Any challenges for you on the course today?
SO YEON RYU: Yeah, today my putting was not that good as yesterday. But still, I mean, wasn't really bad. Just missed couple of par putt and my iron shot wasn't great.
I think my game was quite consistent.
Q. A lot of people following you as well.
SO YEON RYU: It was really great to be playing with the two major champions. Michelle won the US Open and Mo won the major tournament last week so, which feels always good to playing with major champions. Always feel I'm one of the other major champion.
Q. Favorite hole on this course?
SO YEON RYU: Actually a lot of favorite hole. But I think the closing two hole is pretty great. 17 and 18 is par 5, so still good chance to make a birdie.
Rolex Rankings No. 26 Mo Martin
Q. Another solid day.
MO MARTIN: Uh huh.
Q. Just feeling good about the round overall?
MO MARTIN: Yeah, I left a few more birdie putts out there than I did yesterday. Hit a few edges and maybe misread a few.
Still solid round.
Q. Are you suddenly a rock star out here?
MO MARTIN: Nope. Nothing has changed. Signed a few more autographs.
Q. You're not hearing, Hey, that's Mo Martin?
MO MARTIN: Yeah, I am. Somebody yelled, You're the queen on the green. That was a first. (Laughing.)
Q. I like that.
MO MARTIN: Made me laugh.
Q. So people are recognizing you a little bit more?
MO MARTIN: Yeah, more.
Q. Getting caught up on sleep a little bit?
MO MARTIN: A little bit. Yesterday about 8:00 I was
Q. shut everything down?
MO MARTIN: Yeah. It's catching up with me a little bit.
Q. Not only on the golf course, but are people recognizing you in town?
MO MARTIN: I'm not sure. At the airport coming here after the British a couple people were looking at me and staring at me, but I didn't know if that was because I looked ridiculous with my luggage. I didn't stop to find out.
Q. Did you fly into Detroit?
MO MARTIN: Yeah, eventually. I connected through Toronto.
Q. Heading into the weekend?
MO MARTIN: Just continue with my game plan and hopefully make a few more putts this weekend.
Q. Anything that gave you some trouble today that you need to work on?
MO MARTIN: No. I just left a few birdie putts out there. Couple of them were misreads, so just be a little more careful with that.
Q. How is it playing with So Yeon and Michelle? Feel good? Nervous?
MO MARTIN: They're great to play with.
MO MARTIN: I mean, they're both super nice. It was kind of fun to have the US Open winner and the British Open winner. Our games are different. She's got a lot more length off the tee. I'm sure that was fun for the gallery, too.
Great to play with. I really enjoyed it.
Rolex Rankings No. 55 Lee-Anne Pace
Q. You were up, down, and then up there at the finish. Talk about that a little bit of a rollercoaster. At the turn you were minus 8 and then you gave some back and then you got it here. Great finish.
LEE ANNE PACE: I felt like I played really well. I've been hitting the ball really well. Unfortunately on one of those holes, I can't even remember now which one it was, guess it got my confidence a little bit on the putting. Missed a shortish one for birdie after that.
Yeah, just missed it long. So I was a little bit down after that, but then finished strong so happy about that.
Q. Obviously have to wait to see what Laura does today, but talk about your position, how good you feel going into the weekend.
LEE ANNE PACE: Yeah, I'm very happy about the position. I would like to be in contention on the weekend. That's when the fun starts, right? So hopefully I can keep hitting the ball like I am and make a couple of putts on the weekend, and you never know.
Q. You been playing the game for a while. Just talk about what that does, the last shot of the day like that, to close out psychologically heading into the next day?
LEE ANNE PACE: Yeah, after that rollercoaster, like you said, it makes a big difference finishing birdie birdie. Makes you feel a lot better going into tomorrow.
I think back nine is definitely a little bit easier, more scorable, so very happy about this finish.
Q. Outside of a hole in one, only an eagle there, I mean, can't get much better.
LEE ANNE PACE: No, especially the finish. I would've loved it to go in. Actually I nearly holed the one on 17 also. That was another tap in. Wedges are looking good. Also yesterday really close, yeah.
Q. Was that the trend today, your approaches were the best shots you had? What was the strong part of your game?
LEE ANNE PACE: I think my driver is very straight. I hit a lot of fairways. That's been going on for quite sometime now. Last five weeks I've been progressively getting better and better.
My iron play is really good this week, but obviously got this very nice, lovely green grass after the British Open. It makes a big difference. Yeah, the greens are more receptive in the morning.
Rolex Rankings No. 241 Laura Diaz
Q. Score wise, kind of a pedestrian round through 12 holes, and then you really perked up late, stretched your lead out. Talk about rallying toward the end there.
LAURA DIAZ: Well, I had made some good putts for par early in the round, but I wasn't quite hitting it as well as I did yesterday. Yesterday there was just opportunity after opportunity within 15 feet over and over.
Today didn't have that. I was fortunate enough to get it up and down in the beginning of the round and then had a couple stumbles.
But it felt good to make some birdies. Made my first one on I guess 12, 13? 13. Then we had to wait on 14 to hit, so that kind of, I don't know, made things better a little bit.
Yeah, felt good to make some putts coming down the stretch.
Q. Did the afternoon groups have it a little bit harder with the breeze picking up, do you think?
LAURA DIAZ: I have no idea. I wasn't out this afternoon. It was a little breezy, but I think golf is a game you make it what it is.
For me, it was just a challenge because I haven't been in this position in a very long time. For sure haven't had cameras on me in a long time. So I was anxious for them to go away I think in a funny kind of way.
It was nice because Juli was out and she's one of my good friends. It was nice have her face out there. I got to say hi to my kids a couple times.
I think you just kind of learn from your mistakes.
Q. Where the emotions going into the weekend being in the lead, being in the final group? What's this like?
LAURA DIAZ: I don't know. They're kind of high, I guess. I'm very fortunate to be in this position, I guess. The thing is, a golf tournament isn't won after 36 holes or 54 holes.
In this situation it's 72 holes, so there is a lot of golf to be played and lots of great players to go out and shoot lots of great scores.
We all have 36 more opportunities to make 36 more birdies.
Q. You said you were able to say hi to your kids. How did you do that? Was that out there?
LAURA DIAZ: Yeah, a lot of the Golf Channel cameras were out and I was waving. They get in my face and I don't really know what to do. I say, Hi, kiddos, I love you. That kind of stuff.
Q. You talked about the nerves yesterday. Will those be worse tomorrow? How do you deal with those?
LAURA DIAZ: I think I embrace them. I think if I'm not nervous I should probably not be out here anymore. I think it means it matters to me. Everyone around me knows it matters.
I think it's a good thing, so I just kind of say I play better when I'm nervous and go with it.
Q. You talked about how you didn't know if you wanted to play this year. What kind of sparked the fire to get back out here?
LAURA DIAZ: Knowing that I could manage being a mom and play. I think that's something I've struggled with, for, well eight years. When I only had one I think I got to a point where I was okay. I knew I was doing okay with it.
But two you've got twice as much time to try and get everything done.
I love being a mom. It's the greatest thing in the world, so I don't want to miss things. It's hard for me when I have to choose between the two.
So I made a list. My family is first, and then golf comes second and work everything out in between.
Q. Right. Is that even difficult because your husband is also in golf and he has travel requirements as well?
LAURA DIAZ: Yeah, we've tried to do where both of us aren't away at the same time. It's not worked out this week. It's not working out great. He's recruiting.
I'm very fortunate I have amazing parents and they take care of our kids. My mom is with my son this week, and then I have the opportunity to bring my daughter out here and have the LPGA day care help me.
I have a great support system to make it all work.
Q. Do you think your son will be watching tomorrow?
LAURA DIAZ: He'll be swimming in the swim finals. Yeah, he's on swim team. After he swims he'll be going to his banquet, which he just may get an award at.
Rolex Rankings No. 244 Rebecca Lee-Bentham
REBECCA LEE BENTHAM: Not much. Same mindset. Played well yesterday. Hit the ball well.
Today I think I just left a few out there with putting. Had a three putt on I think 16 or 17 coming in.
Then I missed like a three footer on No. 10. So that hurt.
But overall, I felt like I played solid.
Q. Talk about your start today. You birdied 6 of your first ten holes.
REBECCA LEE BENTHAM: Just staying focused. My dad was helping me stay focused. I would kind of get irritated at some shots I didn't feel I hit that solid, but he just kept saying, It's fine; just keep going. So that helped.
Q. Describe the way you played 18.
REBECCA LEE BENTHAM: The hole I just played?
Q. No. Your 9, actually.
REBECCA LEE BENTHAM: Okay. I hit a good drive. I just kind of hooked the second shot a little bit, and then I ended up just under the tree with no shot but a low punch shot.
Hit a pitching wedge, half swing. I hit it good but just rolled off the back. I told my dad I would rather chip than putt and then it went in, so I was like, There you go.
Q. And your position going into the weekend, assume you feel pretty good about that.
REBECCA LEE BENTHAM: Yeah, I'm playing well. This is the first tournament I kind of got my name up on the leaderboard. Kind of a new experience for me.
Finishing last year at the Evian tied for 11th is kind of what I'm drawing back on, being on the leaderboard, staying focused.
Q. Can you notice a change in the gallery now that you're on the top of the leaderboard?
REBECCA LEE BENTHAM: There is definitely more people out there today than there was yesterday. But, I mean, there is lots of people everywhere, so I'm used to seeing people around.