The usual question posed during the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic is, "How low can you go?"
Kelly Robbins once won at Highland Meadows Golf Club with a 19-under-par total. A year later, in 1998, Se Ri Pak topped that by a remarkable four strokes.
Only once in the last seven years has the Farr's champion failed to produce a winning total of at least 10-under par.
When all is said and done, the 2004 winner will likely do the same. After all, double digits are the rule here.
DAVID GREEDY / AP Enlarge
But when all was said and done yesterday, one of the highest scoring days in the tournament's history resulted in one of its highest-ever, 36-hole cuts.
There were only 18 sub-par rounds yesterday - and half of those were 1-under 70s - as opposed to 30 during Thursday's first round.
Karen Stupples, who took a one-shot lead into second-round play, could do no better than a 1-over 72, yet trails by only two shots.
Four-time champion Se Ri Pak failed to break par for just the second time in her last 22 rounds at the Meadows, but a 72 was good enough to stay within three shots of the lead.
There resides Meg Mallon, who recently won her second U.S. Women's Open crown, and Angela Jerman, a 24-year-old who is bidding for her first LPGA Tour victory.
Jerman shot a 68 yesterday and Mallon a 69 to forge a first-place tie at 7-under 135. The 1993 Farr champion, Brandie Burton, trailed by one stroke after a round of 69. Stupples is tied at 5-under 137 with Karrie Webb , one shot ahead of Pak.
The day's low round was a 4-under 67 by 49-year-old veteran Marilyn Lovander and that lifted her into a tie at 3-under with Leta Lindley  and Joanne Morley .
But red numbers were the exception, not the rule, as the field posted a 73.694 scoring average on the par-71 course.
The culprits? An all-day rain on Wednesday made the rough thick and lush and an all-day wind yesterday firmed up already fast greens.
"The greens are drying out, the rough is up, and missed shots are really being penalized," said veteran Dottie Pepper, who matched par.
"Plus," added Stupples, "the pins were really tricky. There were some on little knolls that were easy to mis-read. If you just missed by a fraction ... "
As Mallon put it, "You had to be sharp today."
She was, at least most of the time.
"I had four birdies and an eagle and shot 2-under, so there were a lot of other things going on out there, too," she said.
Mallon and Burton both eagled the 17th hole, Mallon chipping in with a sand wedge from about 60 feet and Burton holing a 20-foot shot from the left greenside bunker.
"I couldn't make a putt on the front nine, then I struggled with my ball striking on the back," Burton said. "My swing sort of fell apart. So I feel pretty fortunate to finish the way I did."
She had three bogeys in a four-hole stretch before going birdie-eagle at Nos. 16-17.
"I was watching the boards, so I knew I hadn't played myself out of the tournament," Burton said of the three bogeys. "I just had to hang in there."
Mallon played over a double bogey at the par-3 sixth hole when she plugged her ball in the greenside bunker and needed two shots to get it out. She putted awfully well, though, making three birdie putts in the 15-foot range and two 10-foot par saves.
"If one shot can make your entire day, then that's what happened for me at No. 17," Mallon said.
She added that Highland Meadows rewards good shots, and that a windy day at the Meadows "brings the cream to the top. It shows the good, creative ball strikers. It separates who's playing the best and who's faking it."
Jerman, in her second full year on tour, has never posted a top-10 finish and made a cut for just the sixth time in 17 events this year.
But she certainly didn't appear to be faking it yesterday, especially after encountering some adversity of her own.
Jerman was forced to take an unplayable lie penalty after a poor approach shot to the 16th hole ended up flush at the base of a pine tree short and left of the green.
"I blocked my tee shot to the right, then came over the next shot, really overcooked it," she said. "Even with a two-club-length drop I could barely get a clear shot to the green. So, of course, I hit my wedge to one inch from the cup. I was actually happy to walk away with a bogey, and I knew there were still two par 5s ahead that set up well for me."
She got the lost stroke back right away with a birdie at No. 17, and then closed out with a par.
"I didn't have any expectations coming here, so I've played very relaxed," Jerman said. "Sort of hit the ball, find it, hit it again. I'm hitting it pretty solidly and my putter has given me a lot of confidence."
She will be in the lead group today with Mallon - leaving the first tee last at 12:10 p.m. - as 76 players qualified for weekend play. The cut came at 4-over 146.
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