OAKMONT, Pa. (AP) — Christina Kim recently co-authored a funny and insightful book about her LPGA career and the inner workings of women’s golf.
Perhaps she was a bit premature in writing it, because she possibly left out the best part. The one that details her winning the U.S. Women’s Open.
On a day when the elements managed to do something the 156-golfer field couldn’t accomplish by getting the better of Oakmont Country Club, Kim was one of the fortunate golfers who managed to finish the second round on Friday.
Kim, who hadn’t been on her game until a week ago, came up with a second successive 1-over 72 before rain shut down play for the day in mid-afternoon. That was good enough to put her one shot behind clubhouse leaders Cristie Kerr – yes, her again – and Brittany Lang.
Kerr had a 71 and first-round leader Lang a 74.
About two-thirds of the field is settled in for a very long Saturday, playing all or most of the second round in the morning and all or most of the third round in the afternoon. Kim, Kerr and Lang are among those who could have a relatively short one.
Since the second-round leaders probably won’t begin the third round until very late in the afternoon, they almost certainly won’t complete their rounds. They will finish up Sunday morning, in time for the final round to go off on schedule.
The weather is expected to cooperate, with mostly sunny skies and temperatures about 10 degrees cooler than the low- to mid-90s for Thursday’s first round and the practice rounds that preceded it.
Kim, who started her second round early Friday morning, probably doesn’t want to wait so long to get back on the course, even if it is Oakmont. She’s enthused about the way she’s playing after finishing in a tie for second at the Jamie Farr Classic last week and having a helpful putting lesson with instructor Ron Stockton.
“This is one of those things where I just feel solid standing over a putt nowadays,” Kim said.
Even if the lesson with Stockton was a bit unusual.
“I came in flip flops and a halter top,” said the 26-year-old Kim, a two-time LPGA Tour winner. “It was amazing. We had a lot of laughs and a lot of fun.”
Think how much fun she’ll have if she won the U.S. Women’s Open, especially after not finishing higher than 24th in a tournament this year until the Jamie Farr.
Kerr’s already won the U.S. Women’s Open, in 2007, and she’s also riding a lot of momentum after winning the LPGA Championship by 12 strokes two weeks ago.
Taking on 108-year-old Oakmont, its sloping greens and fabled hazards is difficult enough in a tournament where the leaders may have already seen the last of below-par scores. Taking on the confident and favored Kerr when she’s on her game may be equally rough, even if 21 golfers were within two shots of the lead when play was halted.
“You kind of, you know, sit in the weeds and wait, wait to kind of strike,” Kerr said.
She was referring to the patience needed for Oakmont to yield some birdies, rather than trying to force them on a course where Angel Cabrera’s winning score for the 2007 U.S. Open was 5 over.
Inadvertently, she might have been referring to her strategy for taking on the rest of a field that may be beyond fatigued once a very long Saturday is over.
Those playing all or most of their second rounds on Saturday, including on-the-course leader Sophie Gustafson, will gain the advantage of softer greens and, thus, a friendlier putting surface. Gustafson was at even par but had 17 holes remaining in her second round.
However, the course will play longer because it’s been saturated, and that could result in some bad lies that the fast, firm Oakmont wasn’t producing before the rains came.
“I think there are very few players who have come across a course like this in their entire lives,” Kim said. “I haven’t. I have been fortunate to play some great courses, but this is another type of beast.”