Date: July 27, 2019
Author: Justin Falconer

Kemp strolls home with eagle-birdie finish

Nobody was stopping Sarah Kemp making her first major cut of the year at the Evian Championship on Friday.

The Sydneysider made the only eagle of the week on a par-4 by holing out from the fairway on 17, before putting an exclamation mark on her second round 2-under-69 with a birdie at the par-5 last.

Kemp is joined at 1-under for the tournament by Katherine Kirk, that duo leading the Australian charge heading into the weekend of the year’s penultimate major.

They currently sit nine back of outright leader Mi Hyang Lee but with some wild weather forecast for the next 48 hours, some solid golf can close that gap quickly.

Fellow Koreans Hyo Joo Kim, In Gee Chun and World No.1 Sung Hyun Park are one stroke back at 9-under.

“I was a couple inside the cut line and thought I just needed one more, maybe on 18 with the tee up a bit today,” Kemp said.

“On 17 I just hit it to the corner and hit a 50 degree wedge up there.

“I couldn’t see the pin, and I didnt know it went in until the people up there started going crazy.

“Then on 18, a 5-wood isn’t easy from that fairway with that lie, the ball below your feet, but I said ‘’let’s do it’.”

Kemp’s unbelievable fortnight in Barwon Heads and Adelaide in February earned her starts in all four majors of the year so far – and a ticket to next week’s AIG Women’s British Open.

And while the 33-year-old hasn’t cashed a cheque in any of the first three, her Friday afternoon blitz has come at the perfect time in the last-gasp dash for crucial Race To CME Globe points.

“I’ve been close, I played pretty well in the teams event last week with my partner Janet,” Kemp said.

“I just need more of the same stuff over the weekend, I’m hitting the ball well. Lots of fairways, lots of greens. Maybe make a few more putts would be nice.”

Countrywoman Kirk’s road to the weekend has been moderately more routine, the Queenslansder backing up yesterday’s opening 70 with an even-par 71 today.

Eight pars and a beautiful up-and-down from a bunker for birdie on the par-5 15th was exactly what the doctor ordered on the way back to the clubhouse

“I thought I actually played a little bit better today, I just didnt make any putts,” Kirk said.

“Just one of those days so I’m happy where I’m at. The bogeys that I made were basically from missing the fairways, 

“It wasn’t easy out there, I don’t think you’ll see crazy low scores out there today.

As for the impending weather, Kirk believes finding the short grass off the tee will be even more important if the expected storms roll across Lake Geneva.

“The greens will probably get a little softer so we might be able to be more aggressive that way,” Kirk said.

“The rough’s gnarly already so the key is going to be hitting fairways this weekend because we’re already wedging out.”

For the second straight day Su Oh made bogey up the 1st – the hardest hole so far this week – but a rollercoaster second round has ended in the Victorian assured of a Saturday tee time.

Oh carded a 2-under-69 second round to be 1-over for the tournament, an improvement of five strokes on yesterday’s effort.

But the Victorian responded brialliantly with three birdies in her next four holes, including an inch-perfect 20-footer on the par-3 5th.

Six straight pars followed before Oh put her weekend in Evian in jeopardy, making bogeys at 12 and the par-3 14th.

But the World No.84 found the par-5 15th green in two and coolly two-putted her way to birdie, before making a certainty of things with another birdie on the last.

“I haven’t really been driving the ball very well this week,” Oh said.

“The rough is so thick so if you hit it in there, it’s almost like a chip-out.

“The leaderboard is jam-packed so one shot makes such a big difference. Being around the cut line for so long, I couldn’t waste a single shot.

“There’s a couple of par-5s on the back nine so I was like ‘let’s just get one more’.”

Earlier in the day, Minjee Lee toiled her way back to 2-over for the tournament on the back of birdies at the 4th and 8th holes to be just inside the projected cut line.

But the West Australian handed one back with a bogey at 10 before her week effectively ended on Friday’s hardest hole of the day, the downhill par-3 14th.

Lee’s tee shot settled halfway up the bank at the rear of the green and she was unable to limit the damage from the wrong side of the extreme spine through the middle of the green.

The five-time LPGA Tour winner took a double-bogey five but battled hard to pull a stroke back with birdie at 17.

Lee needed birdie at the par-5 last and after laying up she left herself eight feet below the hole for a four. Her putt drifted by and with it, any hopes of making the weekend were dashed.

“Before then I was playing pretty solid, but things happen,” Lee said.

“If you’re going to produce big numbers like that on not too hard holes then it’s not going to help your score. It is what it is.”

Next week’s AIG Women’s British Open will mark Lee’s ninth tournament in 11 weeks and her fourth in a row.

The year’s final major is back at Woburn for the first time since 2016. Lee finished T25 that year as a 20-year-old.

“It’s more of a tree-lined golf course so it’s not really a traditional links-style course,” Lee said.

“Some rest will help, but some practice will too.”

Play was suspended at 4:45pm local time on Friday afternoon due to the threat of lightning.

Players returned to the course, as did the last Aussie still on course, Hannah Green.

She eventually became the fourth of five Australians to make the cut, which fell at 2-over par.

Saturday's third round will be played from two tees and in three-balls in order to avoid the expected storms in the afternoon.