So Yeon Ryu roars to 15-under par at Canadian Women's Open
So Yeon Ryu of South Korea blasts out of the seventh fairway bunker during the Canadian Women's Open at the London Hunt and Country Club in London, Ont. on Friday, Aug. 21, 2014. (Derek Ruttan/QMI Agency)
The London Hunt and Country Club tried to strap on its goalie pads and grab the big shields to fend off the world's best women's golfers.
It hasn't worked.
Short of tackling her at the knees, there is no defence for So Yeon Ryu's game right now.
Despite some strategic pin rearranging and longer tee boxes Friday, the 24-year-old followed up her course-record 63 Thursday with a six-under-par 66 to roar to 15-under, five shots clear of fellow Korean Na Yeon Choi, Swede Anna Nordqvist and American Danielle Kang halfway through the $2.25 million CP Women's Open.
Ryu's 129 two-day total is the best start in the tournament's 41-year history, topping fellow Korean Inbee Park and American Cristie Kerr's 132 from last year in Edmonton.
The cut line ended up a high-scoring one-under-par and the event's four-round record to par -- 18-under by Meg Mallon (2004 in Montreal) and Brandie Burton (1998 at Essex Golf and Country Club) -- is in grave danger.
“When I played this course as practice, I thought it was a really tough golf course,” Ryu, the 2011 U.S. Women's Open champ, said. “After I shot 63, I couldn't believe it. So I'm really happy to get bogey-free round at this really nice and tough golf course.”
Thirty-six holes, not one Ryu bogey.
That, to her, is more impressive than the birdie binge.
“(Conservatism) is my goal,” she said. “I am for the bogey-free round all four days. I can't remember any bogey-free round the last three major tournaments, but I'm looking for it this week.”
If this is conservatism, we shudder to think what she would shoot with a liberal view of things.
“I know it looks like she's playing so well -- 15-under is a big score for two rounds,” said Choi, who followed up a 64 with a 70 marked by driving woes. “Some people may think there's a big number out there (for me) but I think I still played well.”
Nordqvist, at 10-under, has played every hole so far with Ryu. She has made just one bogey and at this rate, she will have to shoot another 10-under to get anywhere close to the big prize.
“You're definitely going to have to make a lot of birdies,” said the 27-year-old, who has four LPGA tour wins. “Hopefully, the greens firm up a little bit and it makes it tougher. I was trying to keep up with (Ryu) on the greens. I played really well, too, and I couldn't seem to make any putts. It's a bit frustrating but she played really well and I try to feed off her.”
Ryu hasn't won in two years largely because her putting has suffered. She used to be a top-three player with the flat stick, but she came into this week ranked No. 77 on the circuit.
She sought the advice of putting guru Dave Stockton, who also oversees some guy named Rory McIlroy around the greens.
So far, Ryu has needed just 52 putts here to build up her giant lead.
“(Stockton) told me just trust yourself, get relaxed and I'm just going to stick with what he told me,” she said. “My long putting feel was really great so it was really easy to make a par. If making par is really tough, you kind of keep under pressure so it makes you really tired.”
Now, the rest of the field needs her to fall asleep at the wheel.
At the moment, she's on her way to get some icy cold water dumped over her head.
“Inbee (Park) told us before her round she got called for the (ALS) Ice Bucket challenge,” Choi said, “so she said she's going to call me and So Yeon.”
Kerr, author of an eight-stroke come-from-behind win on Sunday in '06 here, is lurking at nine-under par. Brittany Lincicome, who lost a playoff to Park in the LPGA Championship last week, rocketed up the leaderboard with a day-best 65 to go to eight-under.
“So Yeon is probably making everything she looks at as somebody up four or five would be doing,” Kerr, the wily veteran, said. “I've definitely missed over these last two days seven or eight putts that could've gone in. That's what I've got to focus on for the weekend -- just getting those putts to go in.”
Kerr isn't fazed by these low scores, even though she won it all with 12-under par eight years ago here. That score has gone the way of the dodo.
“The course is a lot softer, though, and the players are hitting it longer than they did back then,” the 36-year-old said. “It doesn't surprise me. We're pretty good, you know.
“People need to realize that.”
The folks at the Hunt Club and Golf Canada sure do.
Time for some new and improved defence.
Ko update: Two-time defending event champ Lydia Ko is at five-under par after a 69 Friday, but the 17-year-old is playing with a cyst in her left wrist and has been advised to have surgery at some point this season. There is a chance the New Zealander, the world's No. 3 ranked player, will go under the knife after the fifth and final major of the year, the Evian Championship in France, next month.