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Georgia Hall Claims a Share of the Lead at the AIG Women’s Open

Backs up opening round 68 with 69 to co-lead at halfway point

 
Georgia Hall tee shot
Second Round Leader - Georgia Hall on the tee box during Round 2 at the AIG Women's Open.

On yet another day when the wind was mild and Carnoustie’s bite was limited, the contenders jockeyed for position, seeing a few names move up the leaderboard, while others, most notably World No.1 Nelly Korda stumbled. Meanwhile, crowd favourite, Georgia Hall, backed up her solid play from Thursday to post a second round score of 69 (-3 under) ending the day as co-leader at -7 under. She shares the lead with American Mina Harigae who posted a 67 on Friday to go with the 70 she carded on Thursday.

An experienced links player, Hall embraces the style of golf as demonstrated by her smooth opening nine holes. She started with 3-consecutive pars before she went on a birdie run starting on the par-4, 4th hole, following it up with another pair of birdies on the 5th and 7th holes – both par-4s. Unfortunately, Hall could not capitalize on the par-5, 6th hole – Hogan’s Alley, regardless, she went out in 33 (-3 under).

The second nine proved to be more eventful as she posted three more birdies on the back, only to be undone by a bogey 5 on the par-4, 11th hole and then with a double bogey on the par-4, 15th hole. After the double bogey, she gathered herself together, playing the last three holes at even par, coming in with her score of 69.

 
Georgia Hall playing her shot into the 18th Green
Co-leader Georgia Hall playing her second shot into the 18th Green with the famed Carnoustie clubhouse serving as the backdrop
 

As an experienced links player, Hall finds herself in good position for the weekend, especially as the forecast calls for steady rain overnight, with the possibility of light rain and showers throughout Saturday and Sunday. Winds are expected to make an appearance as well and could prove to be a significant factor in the outcome of the event. It is something that Hall relishes.

“I think it's about time it got windy. It's proper links golf . . . that's what people want to see, and I think it makes golf much more interesting when there's a lot of wind. So, I'm quite excited to play in it. Obviously, it makes it a lot harder but I think it will be a true test. . . . the Americans and other players, they don't play in the wind quite as much, but at the same time they are extremely good golfers. I've just got to control my ball flight and see how windy it gets but I'm sure it will be quite windy.”

The weekend is shaping up for another classic finish as the co-leaders have 16-players within 3 shots of the lead. Among those players are 7-major champions, including names like Yuka Saso and Lexi Thompson, at -5 under. The others include Brooke Henderson, Hinako Shibuno, Minjee Lee and Nelly Korda.

As for the Thursday co-leader, Nelly Korda was not able to come out and capitalize on the relatively benign course conditions. She finished her second round with a 73 (+ 1 over), dropping into a share of 11th place at -4 under for the tournament. Her ball-striking was solid again, averaging 289 yards off the tee, hitting 11 of 15 Fairways and 14 of 18 Greens in Regulation. Her Achilles heel in Friday’s round was her putting. She recorded 2 – Three putts, each leading to bogeys.


Nelly Korda playing her tee shot
First Round co-leader Nelly Korda on the tee box at the AIG Women's Open

Despite her putting woes which dropped her to 101st overall in putting, her scorecard was relatively stable, recording 13-pars. She started her round off with a streak of 8-consecutive pars before a bogey on the par-4, 9th hole ended the streak. While she maintained her outward composure, it appeared to unsettle her enough that she also dropped another shot at the par-4, 11th hole – her second bogey in three holes. She managed to get a stroke back, birdieing the par-5, 14th hole.

Unfortunately for Korda, she proceeded to 3-putt on the par-4, 15th hole leaving her at +2 over going into the closing stretch of holes. The smooth swinging Korda held her nerve, recording pars on the 16th and the 18th holes. A birdie on the 17th reduced the damage to a final score of 73, +1 over for the day, dropping her all the way down to a share of 11th place. Speaking after the round, Korda acknowledged that she is human and bound to have stretches of golf where she can’t be at the top of her game.

“I wasn't putting well. The putts weren't dropping. The afternoon, the greens got bumpy, and I got on the wrong side of those bumps. So, they were constantly missing, but that's golf. Everyone keeps talking about how I'm playing so well, but I'm going to shoot bad scores – I'm human. So just a little punch of reality that I'm human, and I'm going to continue working these next two days and see how it goes.”

As the weather is expected to return to seasonal norms, it remains to be seen if Korda’s game can adjust to the playing conditions. If not, she may rue the lost opportunity of Friday’s mild conditions. Of course, her silver lining is knowing that she simply did not have her “A”- game on the greens and if she can adjust and warm her putter up, she is only 3-strokes back. The record for the biggest comeback at the AIG Women’s Open was a 6-stroke deficit by Se Ri Pak in 2001.

 

With the field reduced to 66-players after Friday’s cut, tee times are pushed back, with the first pairing of Kelsey MacDonald and Emily Pedersen going out at 8:25 a.m.

Korda will tee off at 12:50 p.m., alongside her former co-leader, Madelene Sagstrom.

Co-leaders Georgia Hall and Mina Harigae tee off in the last pairing at 14:00 hrs or 2:00 p.m. BST.

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