World No. 1 Yani Tseng may or may not be injured. Nerves may have gotten the better of Cheyenne Woods in her first LPGA Tour event -- a major, to boot -- since turning pro. And Michelle Wie -- well, Wie missed her fifth consecutive tour cut in stroke-play events.
With some of the bigger names making early exits from the Wegmans LPGA Championship, the second major of the season, Se Re Pak was the surprise leader of the pack after Friday’s second round. The 34-year-old role model for many of the young Korean women making their marks on tour, Pak figured to be on the sidelines for a while after taking a fall at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic in April.
Instead, Pak healed fast from a torn left labrum and held a 3-under lead heading into the weekend, despite taking full swings only two weeks ago.
"I never expect that's going to be solid round today," Pak told reporters Thursday, after carding a 2-under 70, which was good enough for a tie for fourth after 18 holes. "The last two days in practicing were so-so. So I just come out, being kind of more practicing, just to make sure, I am going to be here full‑time right now. That's why I try to get the feel for it. I guess that helps a lot I guess. Low expectations helps a lot."
Someone of whom expectations are always at their highest was defending champ Tseng. After three quick victories to start the season, however, the five-time major champ was fortunate to be tied with a slew of other golfers for 64th and right on the cut line, after opening scores of 76 and 75 and finishing 36 holes at 7-over.
Indeed, for a good part of the afternoon, it appeared that Tseng would be among the trunk-slammers. Still, making the cut at 7-over was not exactly what golf watchers expected of the world’s top-ranked player, and there was some concern that Tseng was hurt. While Golf Channel cameras showed a trainer checking on Tseng’s left wrist during her warm-up session on Thursday, though, the reigning Player of the Year for two years running brushed off suggestions of any ailments.
“Just a little tight this morning,” Tseng said. “That is not a problem for the score today.”
As for the newest professional on tour, Woods went to work at her new day job after some support from her famous uncle, Tiger.
“[He said], just trust my abilities, have fun, and be patient,” said Woods, who noted that she had been preparing for this moment for so long but admitted to some anxiety during her first stint as a peer of the big guns.
"It's a little intimidating being out here with the Yani Tsengs and Paula Creamers for the very first time,” Woods conceded, “but I'm just excited and taking everything in and using it as experience for my future career."
Despite a second-round 7-over-par 79, and a missed cut in her first go-round as a pro, Woods will have an opportunity soon enough to put her nerves behind her. The 21-year-old Wake Forest grad qualified for next month’s U.S. Women’s Open and may be able to cadge sponsor’s exemptions for the two tour events before the tilt at Blackwolf Run in Kohler, Wis.
And then there was Wie, who, as if she did not have enough to contend with already, shot an opening 74 with just 13 clubs in her bag. Right before her first tee time, the head of her 3-wood cracked, and, lacking a replacement, Wie had to make do with a 2-hybrid in its stead.
Thirteen clubs, 14 clubs (Wie tweeted that a local Nike dealer delivered a new 3-wood prior to her second round) -- it just does not seem to matter for the former pre-teen prodigy these days. She closed at 12-over (10-over on Thursday alone) and in a tie for 119th.
For sure, Wie’s shockingly poor play weighed heavily on her mind. “[T]hink I have shed more tears this year than i ever have in my entire life combined,” she tweeted earlier this week. “SICK and TIRED of playing like s@$t (excuse the language). Time to turn things around!”
In the meantime, with a 70/72 and a score of 2-under heading into Saturday, Paula Creamer was well within striking distance of the leader. Indeed, the crowded leaderboard boasted some 17 players -- including Creamer, Stacy Lewis and Suzann Pettersen -- within three strokes of Pak.
Other notables included Lexi Thompson and Cristie Kerr, each at 2-over.