Jul 27, 2013 Phil Blackwell Uncategorized
By Olivia Jordan-Higgins’ account, the putt on the par-three 12th hole that vaulted her into control of the Symetra Tour’s Credit Union Classic during Satuday’s second round at Drumlins Country Club traveled 45 feet before it toppled into the cup.
That distance could grow a lot longer – or at least more meaningful – in the years ahead if Jordan-Higgins is able to translate her two-stroke lead into a victory on Sunday, weather permitting.
While so many of the other first-round leaders struggled to find consistency on a tough Drumlins East layout, Jordan-Higgins, a native of Jersey in the Channel Islands near Great Britain, recorded six birdies in a four-under-par 67 following her opening 68 on Friday.
So at seven-under-par 135, Jordan-Higgins leads by two over Megan McChrystal, who burst from the middle of the pack in the morning with a tournament-best 65.
First-round leader P.K. Kongkraphan, who won in New Hampshire a week ago, is third at 138 after an up-and-down 72. Other than McChrystal or Kongkraphan, no one in the field is within less than five shots of Jordan-Higgins heading into the final round.
Drumlins East proved much more difficult in the second round, as just 13 players stood under par at day’s end after 23 began the day in red figures. Firm, fast fairways and greens would frustrate most of the field, with two big exceptions.
Going off in the morning, McChrystal, a third-year-pro from Florida who ranks 96th on the Symetra Tour money list, birdied three of her first five holes. Seven straight pars followed, but she closed with a rush of four more birdies, with the bogey on 17 her lone blemish.
Posting that 65 just after the leaders teed off, McChrystal watched as a series of challengers fell away. Kendra Little took the lead at six under at the turn, only to double-bogey 11 and finish with a back-nine 39 to fall back to two under, tied for fourth.
Kongkraphan never found her comfort zone, either off the tee or on the greens. Six bogeys, including strokes dropped on 15 and 16, negated the five birdies she put up and spun her out of a lead she had held through most of the first 27 holes.
While all that was going on, Jordan-Higgins, who attended college in the United States at Charleston Southern University, was continuing to build on the momentum she gained on Friday, when she overcame a slow start (36 on the back nine despite an eagle on 13) to shoot 68.
As Kongkraphan had done in the opening round, Jordan-Higgins birdied the first three holes, quickly getting to six under. Briefly she held the lead before a bogey on 7 gave her a front-nine 34.
It was on the 10th hole that the critical surge began. A birdie there, plus a par on the tough uphill 11th, put Jordan-Higgins back in front due to the stumbles of Kongkraphan and Little.
On the 12th, Jordan-Higgins pulled her tee shot to the right edge of the green, with the pin on the left. Then she promptly sank the long putt, and followed that up on 13 with a 20-foot birdie putt that also found the cup.
Having moved to eight under, Jordan-Higgins now possessed an opportunity to build a big lead. But on 15, her drive lodged up against a tree, forcing her to take an unplayable lie, and it took a terrific approach shot and chip to salvage a bogey.
A wait on the 16th tee proved a blessing, as Jordan-Higgins said she used that time to regroup. She closed with three straight pars.
Though conditions were tough, Alice Kim did even better than Jordan-Higgins by recording a hole-in-one at the 12th. Moah Chang picked up an ace of her own on the 130-yard, uphill 8th.
This is the second time in three weeks that Jordan-Higgins has begun the final round two shots in front. She was in the same position at the Credit Union Challenge in Albany, but shot a 72 and tied for second behind Wei-Ling Hsu.
Now comes a second chance, and it comes amid forecasts of wet weather that has forced early tee times on Sunday. The first groups go off at 8:30 and the last threesome of Jordan-Higgins, McChrystal and Kongkraphan are schedule to start at 10:30.