As is often the case with links golf, players are at the mercy of the weather. Luckily for the ladies competing at this week’s AIG Women’s Open, on Friday, Mother Nature was on their side.
One day after blustery conditions stymied players in Round 1, benign conditions graced Muirfield on Friday — and players took advantage. Just four players in the top 25 shot over par in Round 2, and 15 players shot 68 or better.
As the sun sets over Scotland on Friday, we have officially reached the halfway mark of the year’s final major and we have 36 holes left to determine a champion. Here are three things to know from Round 2 at Muirfield.
Bye bye, No. 1
Jin Young Ko is perhaps the most consistent player in the game of golf, but after a lackluster 36 holes at Muirfield, she won’t be around for the weekend.
Following rounds of 76-71, Ko will miss the weekend at a major for the first time since 2018. Her five-over total left her two strokes outside the cutline after play ended on Friday.
Ko, the world’s No. 1-ranked player, fell victim to a difficult opening round in windy conditions on Thursday. Her 76 left her with plenty of work to do to make the weekend come Friday, and despite a spirited charge early in the day, bogeys on three of her final four holes sealed her fate.
She is the first reigning world No. 1 in the women’s game to miss a cut at a major since Sung Hyun Park at the 2018 Evian Championship. This is also Ko’s first missed cut in an LPGA event since March of 2021.
Even the best have off weeks, and for Ko, this performance certainly fits the bill.
In Gee Chun is making moves at Muirfield.
Chun, affectionately known as Dumbo, followed her opening-round 68 with a five-under 66 in Round 2 to hold a one-stroke lead at the halfway mark. This marks the second time this summer she’s held a 36-hole lead at a major (the first time: at the KPMG Women’s PGA).
“During the beginning of the week, my feel was not super great,” Chun said. “But I know golf is a scoring game, not the shot game. So I just trust what I thought and what I think, just make a good focus on the course and trying to be positive way.”
That positivity paid off on Friday. Chun carded six birdies on the day — including four in her back-nine 31 — to post the second-lowest round of the day with a 66.
Chun, a three-time major winner, is looking to become the first player since Jin Young Ko in 2019 to win multiple majors in the same year.
Additionally, the 27-year-old is seeking to complete the fourth leg of the career Grand Slam in the women’s game. With wins in the U.S. Women’s Open, Evian Championship and KPMG Women’s PGA, Chun needs victories at the AIG Women’s Open and Chevron Championship to hold wins in all five of the women’s majors.
It’s been over a decade since Inbee Park has failed to record a top 10 in at least one major championship during the season. But heading into this week’s Women’s Open, that streak was in peril, with a T25 representing her best major finish in 2022. She’s doing her best to make sure that streak isn’t snapped.
Park, the 2015 Women’s Open winner, followed up her first-round 69 with a 67 on Friday to climb her way into the top 5 heading into the weekend. She sits just two back of Chun’s lead at the halfway mark at Muirfield.
“I think I’m in a good position, obviously,” she said, “I feel like my game is in good form. Just got to keep doing what I have been doing today.”
The 34-year-old has made eight birdies and just two bogeys through 36 holes at Muirfield, and she’s hit 25 of 28 fairways as well.
Park is looking to join Betsy Rawls, Babe Zaharias, Annika Sorenstam, Louise Suggs, Mickey Wright and Patty Burg as the only women with eight or more major titles.
“I still have a little bit left in me,” Park said. “So trying to keep that going for now.”