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Rosales Runs Up Board

Koch, Sorenstam Also Make Hard Charges In Second Round

By Ken Klavon, USGA

South Hadley, Mass. - Jennifer Rosales doesn't concern herself with the scoreboard until it counts.

What does it mean to her?

"Nothing," said Rosales after firing a 4-under-par 67 Friday in the second round of the 59th U.S. Women's Open for a 36-hole total of 5-under 137. The total gave her a share of the lead midway through round two with 18-year-old amateur Brittany Lincicome, who had an afternoon starting time following her 66 in Thursday's first round. "It's doesn't matter until the weekend. Nothing matters until the last day."

 
Jennifer Rosales carded six birdies, a third of the holes, in her second round. (John Mummert/USGA)

If she keeps surging Rosales may care a little more come Sunday. After completing two holes from a suspended first round at 7 a.m., she crafted a near-perfect day on the Orchards Golf Club's 6,473-yard, par-71 layout amid hazy and humid conditions.

The Philippine-born Rosales wasn't the only one going low. Sweden's Carin Koch and Annika Sorenstam inched closer to the top with solid rounds.

Koch carded a 4-under 67 to stand at 3 under for the championship. Meanwhile, Sorenstam peaked at 4 under at one point, only to bogey the eighth hole, her 17th of the round, to finish at 3-under 139. Patricia Meunier-Lebouc of France, at 4-under 67, also went off in the afternoon.

After enduring several thunderstorms, including one overnight, a softer course meant players could control their approaches to the tricky greens a little easier. But it didn't mean the course was any more challenging.

"The greens are receptive because of all the rain," said Sorenstam, a two-time Women's Open champion and winner of this year's McDonald's LPGA Championship. "But you can't be aggressive because of the [flagstick] placement."

It had been nip-and-tuck between Rosales and Sorenstam, who played one group apart the first two rounds. Rosales started on the back nine and birdied her first three holes. Sorenstam tried keeping pace with birdies at two of her first three. But Rosales wouldn't bend, blending supreme shot-making with a solid putter. Overall, she missed just two fairways, Nos. 14 and 15, and three greens in regulation.

"Well, the first hole I hit it really good and just made that putt," said Rosales, who posted her first LPGA victory earlier this year at the Michelob Ultra Open at Kingsmill in Williamsburg, Va. "And I told myself that if I made this putt, it's going to keep going until the end."

And it did. Her fingers were protected by tape due to blisters caused by gripping the clubs too tight. Yet the condition didn't seem to bother Rosales when she ran into trouble. At the par-4 fourth hole, a 421-yarder that features a challenging uphill approach to a back-to-front sloping green, Rosales played her second shot from 150 yards out conservatively to the fat part of the putting surface. The ball hit the slope and stopped 35 feet short of the hole. Her 6-foot par putt found the hole, but Rosales said she rushed the stroke and if the ball hadn't dropped, it was headed off the green.

Two-time Women's Open champion Karrie Webb, playing in Rosales' group, made a hard charge early, getting to one under par before falling back to 1-over 143. The Australian missed back-to-back 3-footers at eight and nine to end what had been a promising round.

Rosales, though, kept chugging along by concluding the round with a 12-foot birdie on No. 9 that brought three quick steps to the right and a fist pump. For the two days, she's averaged 28.5 putts.

She said the goal was to stay as loose as possible.

"Well, trying to," added Rosales. "I was just trying to have fun out there, and my caddie and I were just taking our time, because sometimes I [start] rushing it and that's when I make mistakes."

 
Annika Sorenstam put herself in contention with a 3-under 68 second round . (John Mummert/USGA)

With a smidgen of disappointment in her voice, Sorenstam thought she let a couple of holes get away. She was another one who had to complete her first round on Friday morning - awaking at 4:30 a.m. - beginning on the treacherous par-4 16th, the toughest hole on the course. She proceeded to double bogey it when, after laying up in three, her chip spun off the green and led to a two-putt.

"It wasn't the start I had in mind," said Sorenstam. "I woke up and since then I played really well I thought."

In her second round, consistency off the tee wasn't a problem as she missed just one fairway. Too many two- and three-putts, 32 in all, left more birdie opportunities on the course than she would have liked.

Out of the three, Koch had to feel like she was riding a roller-coaster. Also starting on the back nine, the Swede posted an eagle at the 456-yard par-5 13th (her fourth of the round) when she used a 3-wood to knock the ball to within 3 feet of the hole.

Between her sixth and 13th holes, she couldn't find stability, registering two birdies and three bogeys.

On No. 6, she nearly had another eagle. Using a 7-iron from 125 yards out, Koch landed the ball to a foot of the hole.

"The crowd wanted to give me the putt," said Koch, who has missed two of the last three Open cuts and had to endure 36-hole sectional qualifying to get into the 2004 championship.

"I really tried to hang in there and not get down."

Ken Klavon is the Web Editor for the USGA. E-mail him with questions or comments at kklavon@usga.org. David Shefter of the USGA contributed.