St. Michael’s Steph Kyriacou has drawn on an unlikely source of inspiration to roar into contention at the AIG Women’s Open, firing a brilliant back nine of six-under 30 at Carnoustie Golf Links.
Starting the day even par, a disastrous front nine of four over put Kyriacou in grave danger of missing the one-over cut-line as she reached Carnoustie’s brutal back nine.
But some gentle encouragement from her scoreboard carrier and a putter that suddenly ran hot saw the 20-year-old reel off four birdies and an eagle at the par-five 12th to climb into a tie for 23rd and just five shots off the lead.
After the birdie at 10 Kyriacou hit a three wood from 201 yards to 40 feet at 12 and made the putt for eagle, adding birdies at 13 and 14 and then hitting a five iron to 15 feet at the par-three 16th to pick up five shots in the space of five holes.
“I was talking with him for a bit of the front nine, he’s a really nice guy,” Kyriacou said of her new scoreboard-carrying friend.
“I made my first birdie on 10 and on the tee he’s like, ‘Come on, you’ve got this.’
“Then he said, ‘You can birdie this, you can eagle the next and you can birdie the next.’
“He was being a bit of a smart ass and was like, ‘Do you want me to change the score now?’
“When I made a couple of birdies, he was like, ‘See!’
“It was fun. There was some good banter.
“I think I’ve got good momentum going in. Tomorrow is moving day and I’m only five back. It’s really nothing in links golf, and I don’t think the weather is going to be great tomorrow. We’ll see.”
Two shots to the better of Kyriacou, Lee and Oh continue to lead the Aussie charge but did so in contrasting fashion on Friday.
Oh, who was only added to the field two weeks ago, had four birdies in the first eight holes of her second round before coming home in 1-over 37 for a 3-under par total, Lee playing the back nine in 3-under 33 in her round of 69.
“Hit the ball much better today which was nice, stayed on the fairways most of the day,” said Oh, a 30-footer for birdie at seven the highlight of her round.
“I rolled a few in from, you know, 30 feet and hit a couple close. So that helped, and then the back nine is tricky.
“Just didn’t really have any good chances. I was probably 10 feet on 14, and that was really my only birdie try. I hit it close on 16 but misread the putt.
“But overall, pretty steady and I finished even par for the last four holes, so I’m pretty happy with that.”
Buoyed by the confidence that comes from her recent major breakthrough at the Evian Championship, Lee will also carry momentum into Saturday’s third round after a brilliant approach to five feet and a birdie at Carnoustie’s famed closing hole.
“I hit such a good shot in. I was really happy I made birdie. It was a stress-free birdie, so I’m happy,” said Lee, third at the Women’s Open last year.
“I hit driver off the tee and I think I had like 175 metres to the pin so it was a perfect number.
“If we get no wind, I think it’s very scorable. Obviously, it’s a tough test, but it’s very fair.
“If you hit good shots, you’re going to get rewarded. It all depends on the weather.”
West Australian Hannah Green safely navigated her way into the weekend with a second round of 2-under 70 to be 1-under for the championship and in a tie for 31st.
The 24-year-old had birdies at two, five and 14 and a lone bogey at the tough 15th and is already eyeing a weekend charge up the leaderboard.
“I hope I can have an early tee time on the weekend and maybe post a number and come from behind,” said Green, who had some of her Scottish family in the crowd on Friday.
“I feel like you can go low. If you have a couple of lucky bounces and maybe a couple of putts go in, your confidence can be quite high here.
“I feel like if I have a few more under on the weekend both rounds, I’ll be right up there on the leaderboard.”
A run of four straight bogeys around the turn cruelled Whitney Hiller’s hopes of advancing to the weekend as she posted two-over 74 to miss the cut by two, Katherine Kirk (78), Sarah Kemp (76) and amateur Kirsten Rudgeley (76) also unable to progress to the third round.