BLADE/JETTA FRASER Enlarge
Past scores at this tournament are foretelling present results.
When the Marathon Classic advances to round three today, the leaderboard will be littered with players who have enjoyed some of their finest career moments at this summertime LPGA event.
Beatriz Recari and Paula Creamer, two of the three leaders at 8-under 134, won’t have a disparaging word to say about Highland Meadows. Neither would Jacqui Concolino, who sits one shot behind the leaders and is poised for her first top-10 finish.
“There’s a phrase, ‘Horses for courses,’ ” said Concolino, whose previous best result, 11th, came here in 2012. “This is one course I felt comfortable on the first time I stepped foot here.”
American Alison Walshe, who shares the lead with Recari and Creamer, is the exception. She has never played well here before this week, missing a cut and finishing no higher than 62nd.
“In the past, whenever I arrived, I wasn’t playing great,” said Walshe, who shot 2-under Friday. “It’s nice this year to be on the contrary.”
BLADE/ANDY MORRISON Enlarge
Seven challengers are within three strokes of the leaders, and 39 golfers are below par following another sweltering day cooled intermittently by gusts of wind.
Recari, who finished in the top 10 here in her only two other appearances, eagled the par-4 No. 15 to make amends for bogeys on 10 and 11. The Spaniard, whose 6-under Friday is tied with Walshe’s opening round for the low score of the tournament, said she holed in from about 150 yards when “the hole got in the way.”
“I was pretty angry at those two bogeys so I was feeling more focused to get those back,” said Recari, who made six birdies.
Creamer, a former winner, birdied holes 1 and 2 and carded a 68. Her affinity for this course is well known. In 2008 she fired a tournament-record 60 in the opening round on her way to the title.
Creamer has yet to win this year and has captured nine career titles.
“A 60 anywhere is a good score,” she said. “Do I feel like I can do it again? Sure. Why not? It was fun doing it.”
Creamer said the course conditions were “a little firmer” and the pin placements more daunting than Thursday, when she fired a 66.
Another former champion, 2012 winner So Yeon Ryu, sits eighth at 5-under. She is one of two South Koreans, along with Inbee Park (6-under), in the top 10. Park, the world’s top player, birdied her final two holes to finish with a 69.
“It was a tough day,” said Park, who finished fourth a year ago. “I was grinding for pars. The last birdies felt like heaven.”
BLADE/JETTA FRASER Enlarge
Others in the top 10 are the precocious 16-year-old Lydia Ko (tied for fifth, 6-under), Japan’s Chie Arimura (tied for fifth, 6-under), England’s Jodi Ewart Shadoff (tied for eighth, 5-under), and American Lexi Thompson (tied for eighth, 5-under).
Walshe is having the tournament of her life. The leader after day one picked up a 6-foot birdie on No. 18 to match Recari and Creamer for the lead. Walshe, a rookie in 2010, has never won on tour and has two top 10s.
“I’d lie if I said I didn’t dream about it,” Walshe said of winning. “But you have to stay in the present. It’s only Friday.”
A four-way tie nearly unfolded when Concolino, playing in the final group, stormed through the backside with three birdies to close to within one stroke. With a chance to join or pass the leaders, she parred Nos. 8 and 9 to finish.
Concolino, originally from New York, attributes some of her comfort to friendships she made here. She is staying overnight with the same host family as last year and has reconnected with friends here.
“I’ve kept in touch with them,” she said.
Contact Ryan Autullo at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6160, or on Twitter @AutulloBlade.