Stacy Lewis fired a scorching course record 63 in the second round of the women’s golf competition to stand on the brink of Olympic glory at the end of a whirwind two weeks in which she got married and became an Olympic athlete.
The much-decorated American takes everything in her stride, even preparing for a visit to the Olympic diving event soon after compiling the eight-under-par round which propelled her into the medal positions on 133, nine under par, just one off the pace set by Inbee Park of Korea.
However, watching the talented divers may act as a springboard to success on Saturday afternoon, when Lewis attempts to follow in the footsteps of her compatriot, Margaret Abbot, who won for the United States in Paris way back in 1900.
First, though, the new Mrs. Chadwell faces the challenge of overhauling Park, who continued her impressive recovery from a thumb injury by matching her opening 66 for a 36-hole total of 132.
Lewis carved out 11 birdies during a brilliant performance on the Olympic course, lowering Park’s course record from Wednesday by two shots. Even a bogey and a double-bogey at the 14th failed to halt her inexorable progress up a cosmopolitan leaderboard.
On the contrary, the 31-year-old recovered from that bogey blow on the 14th by closing with four straight birdies to match the 63 shot by Marcus Fraser in the men’s competition exactly one week earlier.
“I guess I have a course record here, and it’s great to put my name on that, and being near the top of the leaderboard at the Olympics,” said Lewis. “It’s something that, I think, every kid is going to dream of doing.”
She added: “It’s been such a cool week so far, and the highlight for me was just getting to see the guys up there on the podium on 18 on Sunday getting their medals and just thinking about how cool that would be to be in their shoes and be doing that on Saturday. It’s definitely a motivating factor but I’ve had a great week and we’re enjoying it so far.”
Park, the seven-time major winner, admitted that she arrived in Rio more in hope than expectation after a lengthy lay-off due to the on-going thumb injury. However, the Korean has plotted a steady course for two days and said: “I was able to convert the birdies today. I missed a couple of tee shots, so I was in the sand area, but I was able to convert them into birdies. That’s really the key for today’s round.”
The leaderboard reflects the global nature of the competition, with a league of nations contending inside the top ten of an exciting women’s event. Hard on the heels of Park and Lewis are Canadian Brooke Henderson and Charley Hull, bidding to follow the gold medal performance of her fellow Briton, Justin Rose, last Sunday. Henderson also went low wth a 64 while Hull tagged a 66 onto her initial 68 for an eight-under-par total of 134.
Right behind the leaders are three players on seven under par, Marianne Skarpnord of Norway, Denmark’s Nicole Broch Larsen and Candie Kung of Chinese Taipei while the youngest player in the field, 18-year-old Aditi Ashok carries the hopes of India at six-under-par.
Quotes of the Day – Round 2
Inbee Park 132 (66, 66): “I think first coming here, I didn’t really know whether I was going to play this week or not due to the injury. Obviously didn’t expect much of a result. It was more of whether I can play or not. A good result is a great gift.”
Stacy Lewis 133 (70, 63): “I was excited from the get‑go with the announcement of the Olympics. There are probably a lot of reasons why we shouldn’t have come and shouldn’t have done this, whether it was Zika or other issues. I just did my homework and nobody gave me a good reason why I shouldn’t come. You’d have to ‑ I mean, there’d have to be something seriously wrong with me to not come play in the Olympics. This has been so cool. Just a different feel about it.”
Brooke Henderson (134) 70, 64: I feel Britt (sister and caddie) and I came up with a really good strategy for this course over the last week or so, along with Team Canada. I think so far, it’s been pretty good. But like I say, there’s still lots of golf left and hopefully I’ll just continue to play smart but take advantage when I can.
Charley Hull 134 (68, 66): “I don’t really look at what I do. I just kind of get off the golf course and go to the gym. I don’t really analyse where I am. I just kind of think, oh, yeah, I played decent, another round tomorrow.”
Marianne Skarpnord, 135 (69, 66): “When I first came there (Team Norway house), I was thinking, God, this is like going to camp or something, border school or whatever. The food isn’t great. The beds aren’t great. The apartment isn’t great. But the atmosphere and the experience is better and a lot more than I would ever think that it would be. I’m loving it. I think it’s really cool.”
Nicole Broch Larsen 135 (67, 68): “It’s cool (Olympic Village). It’s nice to be surrounded by athletes. I think we have a good atmosphere in the Danish, yeah, all the Danish people together. Everybody is cheering for each other. It’s really cool getting back there yesterday and a lot of people is like, good luck, and well played. It’s just nice to get their support, as well.”
Aditi Ashok 136 (68, 68): “I think golf every day is different. You never hit the same shot twice. So every day is a new experience, and you can’t really come with any expectations. The game is bigger than all of us, so that’s what I like about it. Every day, you have a new experience.”
Gerina Piller 136 (69, 67): “Yeah, that would be pretty cool to have a (USA) podium sweep. It’s definitely been talked about amongst us. But again, there’s a lot of golf to be played and you can’t put the cart before the horse. For me, I just want to focus on playing consistent golf and hitting good shots and making putts.”
Minjee Lee 136 (69, 67): “I think when you’re on the golf course, you don’t really think about it. But when you’re obviously not on the golf course, you’re like, oh, you just sort of realize how big of an event it is and not just for yourself, because you’re representing your country and for women’s golf and all that. So I think it’s pretty cool just to be here. I think it’s amazing. More amazing as it goes.”
Lydia Ko 139 (69, 70): “I think she (Charley Hull) realises how big of a deal it is, and especially with Justin Rose winning the gold medal, I know she would love to putt a contribution to GB. I think it’s just her personality that she’s just cool, outgoing, trying to play some great golf, and no matter what tournament that you’re playing, I think that’s a confidence factor; that either you’re in perfect positions or not, you’re still going out there focusing on that shot in front of me and not worrying about everything that’s gone around you.”