Call the first two rounds of this U.S. Senior Women’s Open a prelude to greatness. Helen Alfredsson, the 2019 champion, is leading the way at 6-under-par 140, but is being chased by who’s who of greats. No fewer six players with USGA trophies at home are in the hunt, setting the stage for a scintillating finish this weekend at NCR Country Club.
Occupying the two spots just below Alfredsson on the leader board are Leta Lindley, who is one stroke back at 141 after a 72 on Friday, and defending champion Annika Sorenstam, in solo third place at 143.
First-round leader Tammie Green is at 144, with Catrin Nilsmark and Jill McGill at 145 and Trish Johnson at 146. Juli Inkster, 2018 U.S. Senior Women’s Open champion Laura Davies and Jacqueline Gallagher-Smith are at 147.
Alfredsson, who capped her round by hitting a 9-iron from 118 yards to inside a foot for a birdie on No. 18, was solid in every aspect of her game, making only one bogey. She hit 12 of 14 fairways and 17 of 18 greens.
“Yeah, it's gotten a little bit better,” Alfredsson said. “Yesterday was not great. Today was a little bit better, which I need. I think [the key] is to keep it in play off the tee. I have an advantage that I'm fairly long still, so you know, if I can just keep it in the fairway, I don't have that far in like some of the other girls.”
Asked how many times she has competed since last year’s U.S. Senior Women’s Open at Brooklawn Country Club in Fairfield, Conn., Alfredsson said: “Zero. I don't even know if I have 10 rounds, actually.”
Lindley joined Alfredsson as the only players to shoot under par in each of the first two rounds, following a 69 with a 72 despite making bogeys on two of the final three holes. She has only 56 putts in 36 holes.
“I did a lot of good things,” Lindley said. “A little disappointed with my finish; hit just a couple squirrelly shots. But otherwise played really solid, continued to roll my putts nicely. Just had some that just rolled over the edge, but felt like overall I played really solid other than my two bogeys coming in.”
Sorenstam, visibly upset after an even-par 73 on Thursday, began her second round on No. 10 and made birdies on Nos. 12, 17, 1 and 4 while making her only bogey on No. 6 as she shot 3-under-par 70.
“I drove the ball better,” Sorenstam said. “Missed a few short putts, but I would say overall I was in a much better mood. I had the rhythm, had some momentum. It was fun out there, and just trying to go out there and enjoy and not feel constantly pressure in what I have to do. That's why I played better.”
Inkster, who also began her second round on No. 10 and had even more work to do after a 76 on Thursday, was four over par after a bogey on No. 14, then reeled off five birdies in a row before making a triple-bogey 8 on the par-5 sixth hole on her way to 71.
Green, who had the grabbed the first-round lead with a 5-under-par 68, got to six under par through six holes on Friday but played four over from there in for a 76. Still, she’s in the hunt. Alfredsson is going to have a lot of company around the top of the leader board in Saturday’s third round, and many of them are familiar names she’s been tussling with for decades.
The 36-hole cut came at 12-over-par 158, with 52 players advancing to play the weekend. Round 3 will begin at 9:20 a.m. EDT on Saturday. Live broadcast coverage on Peacock's free streaming service is from 3-6 p.m. EDT.
“I hit a lot of great shots today. I just didn't – the putter wasn't as good as it was yesterday, but certainly I'm striking the ball well. I'm driving the ball well. I don't see why I can't move right up the leaderboard tomorrow.” – Tammie Green
“I do not compare myself to him whatsoever, but I think anybody that sees Tiger is off, he knows how to play the game. It's his physical abilities. He knows where to hit it, what shots to hit, and I think we grew up in an era that we learned to play golf. We were not just hitting shot after shot after shot and trying to have a perfect golf swing because obviously I've never claimed to have one.” – Helen Alfredsson on how she remains sharp despite rarely competing
“I played well today. I had a couple bad drives coming in, and that was my 8, highlighted by a three-putt. I made up some ground. I've got 36 holes left. I definitely put myself in a hole again, but I'm used to crawling out of them.” – Juli Inkster after shooting 2-under-par 71
“Well, I don't know if this makes me more nervous or going in for childbirth, one of the two. I'm getting my nine-month-old puppies back from military school, so I don't know which one is more challenging at the moment. But it's fun to be in this position.” – Jill McGill on being in the hunt on the weekend
“I came from Sweden; I had a golf bag and two suitcases. She came with a U-Haul.” – Annika Sorenstam on rooming with Leta Lindley at the University of Arizona
“I think that might be a little bit of an exaggeration. I had a carful. Maybe my parents had some. I do remember my parents taking her to go get sheets. That might be a better memory than a U-Haul.” –Lindley