Michelle Wie trails Ariya Jutanugarn, Stacy Lewis by one in Phoenix

By Mike Tulumello, The Sports Xchange  |  March 18, 2017 at 8:18 AM
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PHOENIX -- Michelle Wie would love to live life as a contender again.

Wie put herself in strong contention for the weekend at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup with her second straight outstanding round. She shot 67 on Friday and is 12-under-par 132, one shot behind the leaders, heading into the weekend.

"I think being in contention is a spot where I feel comfortable," Wie said. "It feels like home to me."

Wie struggled badly last year but earlier this month tied for fourth at the HSBC Champions event in Singapore.

The past two days seem "a lot sweeter" compared to "struggling to make the cuts on Fridays," Wie said. "Trying to make the cut is a whole different feeling than trying to make birdies to stay in contention. I'd have to say this is a lot more fun.

"I'm really proud of the way I've played the last two days to give myself an opportunity. That's all I can ask. I'm really excited."

Playing in the same group, Stacy Lewis and Thailand's Ariya Jutanugarn shot identical scores for the second straight day and continue to lead. Both shot 5-under 67, following up 64s on Thursday, and are at 131 at JW Marriott Desert Ridge.

The two were among five tied for first after Thursday's first round.

"It's always hard to follow up a round like yesterday," said Lewis, who started a 59 watch at the course after shooting 29 on the front nine Thursday. I'm happy with the day."

Lewis played bogey free thanks in part to a great save out of a fairway bunker at No. 9, her final hole.

She took a 9-iron from 144 yards and got it on the green, well short of the hole, but close enough for a routine two-putt.

"I knew it was going to come up a little short. But I had to hit it really good to get it onto the green," she said.

She also had to go left of the pin to avoid another bunker.

"It was probably the shot of the day," she said. "If I mis-hit it at all, it comes up short. I hit it perfect."

Jutanugarn, a big hitter who is playing without a driver this week, also was satisfied. She said she enjoys playing on a course that's full of birdie chances but added, "It's pretty hard because I feel like every hole, everybody has a chance to make birdie. I just try to play my own game and have fun."

Wie fired a 31 on the front nine, capped by a 30-foot birdie on No. 9. But she missed a 5-foot birdie putt at 15 and a 7-foot birdie putt at 17, shots that would have pulled her into the lead.

Also at 132 were Vicky Hurst, Koreans Mi Jung Hur and Jeong Eun Lee.

Imbee Park shot 31 on the front nine and finished with a 66 and at 133. She missed a 4-foot downhill putt at 18 that would have pulled her within one shot of the leaders.

"Six under is a really good round, although everybody else seems to be shooting that number as well," Park said.

"Obviously, it's a matter of how many putts you drop, and the mistake on the last one wasn't great. But I'm only halfway done."

The cut line of 5 under par was the lowest in LPGA history.

Jessica Korda and Korea's In Gee Chun, who was tied for the lead after the first round, are two shots back at 133.

Katie Burnett, who also was tied for the lead after the first round, shot 70 and is among those three shots back at 134r. The other player who was tied for the lead Thursday, Sandra Changkija, shot 73 and is at 137, six shots behind the leaders.


-- Prominent players who missed cut included Lexi Thompson (4 under), Cristie Kerr (4 under), Suzann Petterson (3 under), Cheyenne Woods (-3), Paula Creamer (+1), Laura Davies (+1), amateur Hannah O'Sullivan (two over) and Morgan Pressel (even).

-- The previous lowest cut was 4 under at the 2015 Manulife LPGA Classic in Cambridge, Ontario.

-- Julie Inkster, coming off her fourth Legends Tour win, made the cut at 6 under par after shooting 73.

-- Jessica Korda is at 11 under, two shots off the lead, and sister Nelly is at 8 under in their second event playing alongside each other this year.

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