BETHLEHEM, Pa. (AP) — Alexis Thompson’s goals are increasing with her age. So are her accomplishments.
Two years after becoming the youngest player to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open, and after two missed cuts, the 14-year-old pushed her way up the leaderboard Friday and moved into contention at Saucon Valley Country Club.
Displaying a solid all-around game and course management that defied her age, Thompson eased her way around the Old Course, shooting a second-round 73 for a two-day total of 2-over 144.
She’s in a six-way tie for eighth place and will play on the weekend for the first time at an Open.
Two years ago, she was 16-over par after two rounds, and last year bogeyed her final two holes of the second round and finished at 6-over.
She raised her expectations for this year.
“I wasn’t just looking to make the cut,” the ninth-grader said. “I know I can contend if my game’s on out there.
“I’m going to just try to do the same thing I did the last two days, and hopefully it’ll be good.”
After opening with an even-par 71, Thompson didn’t play conservative, but seldom got aggressive.
She said her mindset was, “just playing consistent and hitting the fairway and not really attacking pins; playing safe.”
She slipped a few times in the second round with two bogeys and a double-bogey.
After making 7 on the par-5 6th, with three holes remaining, Thompson remembered closing last year’s second round with consecutive bogeys.
“After that double, I was like, oh, no, I don’t want to blow another like last year,” she said. “I tried to just play consistent on the last few holes and hit my driver on the fairways. And if I could, keep it close and make a putt. That would be great.”
Thompson said she was able to draw on the experience of her tie for 21st at the Kraft Nabisco Championship earlier this year, and tempered talk that her game is tailored for majors.
“Probably not yet,” she said. “I’m not going to go and say that, but yeah, I’m going to go through Junior Golf, and if I go into these or Kraft, I’m just going to go out there and play well.”
She held back from setting new goals for the final two rounds, insisting that two even-par rounds would be fine.
ONLY FIRST ONCE: Janice Olivencia won’t be around for the weekend rounds at Saucon Valley Country Club, yet she left her mark on this championship.
The 26-year-old Futures Tour player is the first player from Puerto Rico to compete in the Women’s Open, according to the Puerto Rico Golf Association.
She’s also the first player from the island to play in a major tournament since Chi Chi Rodriquez competed in the U.S. Senior Open in 2001.
Olivencia qualified for the championship in Illinois and immediately realized the magnitude of the accomplishment.
“I knew right then I’d be setting an example for little girls back in Puerto Rico,” Olivencia told the USGA after Thursday’s first round. “It’s history, and yes, I am honored and very proud to represent my country, but today I’m just another female playing in the Open.”
Rodriquez, who played in 16 U.S. Opens and 16 Senior Opens, said Olivencia’s feat was a great accomplishment for her and her country.
She missed the cut after a second-round 78 and 20-over total.
GOING LOW: Giulia Sergas of Italy posted the finest score of the second round, a 4-under 67.
The 29-year-old from Trieste moved to even-par 142 and is tied for fourth with first-round leader Na Yeon Choi of South Korea.
Sergas, who tied for sixth in last year’s championship, hit 10 of 14 fairways and 12 greens in regulation. She had six birdies and two bogeys.
SHUFFLING THE ORDER: Christina Kim lost both her playing partners to injury on Thursday, but avoided playing the second round alone.
Martina Eberl of Germany withdrew midway through the first round because of a wrist injury, and Seon Hwa Lee of South Korea withdrew after the first round due to a back injury, leaving Kim as a single.
Rather than sending Kim out alone in the second round, the USGA tweaked the pairings to create two twosomes. Kim was paired with Ji Young Oh, leaving Helen Alfredsson and Brittany Lang as another pair.