It’s breezing into a weekend to remember in the AIG Women’s Open at Carnoustie with a brilliant international leaderboard for a little more challenging weather due for the final two rounds.
The lead is seven-under, shared by 2018 champion Georgia Hall of England and the USA’s Mina Harigae. A slightly more breezy day on the Angus links separated the field a little, although first round leaders Nelly Korda and Madelene Sagstrom are still hanging around.
But there’s plenty more quality in view. Sei Young Kim of Korea and the USA’s Lizette Salas are just a shot behind, Lexi Thompson and US Open champion Yuka Saso are close by on five-under. Ireland’s great new hope Leona Maguire came charging into view, 2019 champion Hinako Shibuno and Canada’s Brooke Henderson are on four-under.
Georgia wants more wind
Hall reached nine-under at one point before the 15th stalled her with a double-bogey six. The winner at Lytham three years ago wants more wind.
“I think it’s about time it got windy,” she said, after her 69. “It’s proper links golf, ask and that’s what people want to see. I think it makes golf much more interesting when there’s a lot of wind.
“I’m quite excited to play in it. Obviously it makes it a lot harder but I think it will be a true test.”
Harigae maybe had the very best of conditions before the wind started to get up, and cashed in with a 67.
“It looked like there was going to be rain and it definitely was a little softer out there,” said the 31-year-old from California, who is bidding for a Solheim Cup place.
“I thought it was a little more breezy than when I played yesterday afternoon.I didn’t think it was easy conditions, but also I know it can be a lot tougher.”
‘It’s the most mentally demanding’
Maguire’s 67 was the best of the leaders with Harigae, and she shares her compatriot Padraig Harrington’s love and respect for the venue.
“Carnoustie is a proper golf course, doesn’t really matter what the weather is,” she said. “I guess every time the Open’s on you see Padraig’s pitch shot here.
“It has to be up there with the toughest. It’s the most demanding mentally as well, you have to be fully concentrating on every single shot.
“You can’t really play too defensive either otherwise you make it into a beast. You have to hit driver on some of the holes and take on fairway bunkers.
“My caddie Dermot has been here for 20-odd years for the Dunhill and Open, so it’s nice to have that extra bit of knowledge there.”
Nelly Korda slipped back in the afternoon, not recording a birdie until the long 12th. But she’s still in range, and there were notables from around the cut.
Not least of which was 57-year-old Laura Davies. The legend had seven birdies in a 70 to finish level par and make the weekend in her 41st championship.
Kelsey flies the flag – all the time
Check out the best highlights from Friday morning's play at the AIG Womens' Open!
The action is hotting up this afternoon too, with @msagstrom joining the leaders at seven under!
— AIG Women’s Open (@AIGWomensOpen) August 20, 2021
Scotland’s Kelsey MacDonald, the self-proclaimed “Human Saltire”, also made the weekend with a battling 70.
The 30-year-old from Nairn, who seems to have limitless wardrobe options featuring blue and white, has had another good couple of days.
“I’m just over the moon,” she said. “Hitting the first tee shot yesterday was something I will never forget.
“It’s huge to have people out there acknowledging your shots and shouting your name. That’s really good.”
And she’s carried on the good form from the Scottish Open at Dumbarnie Links last week.
“I’m just trying to take good golf into the next week. Use the momentum and build on those four rounds last week,” she said.
“As I was growing up, (local pro) Katy McNicoll was one of my closest friends. I played a lot of golf at Carnoustie. I feel quite comfortable round here and that’s been a huge help.”