Thailand's Wichanee leads US Women's Open as Korda misses cut

golf01 June 2024 04:14| © AFP

Thailand's Wichanee Meechai overcame an attack of nerves to launch an early birdie spree and take a two-shot lead at the US Women's Open on Friday as world No 1 Nelly Korda missed the cut.

Wichanee, who has never posted a top-10 finish at a major, rattled off six birdies and three bogeys on her way to a three-under-par 67 at Lancaster Country Club in Pennsylvania.

That left the 31-year-old from Bangkok on four under for the tournament after 36 holes, two clear of Andrea Lee of the United States, who finished on two under after a second straight 69.

Wichanee was catapulted to the top of the leaderboard after making a blistering start to her second round after teeing off on the back nine.

The Thai veteran, who has missed the cut in four of her six most recent major appearances, opened with four straight birdies to move to five under.

Though three bogeys on the 15th, 18th and third holes checked her momentum, Wichanee bagged her fifth birdie of the day on the fourth.

She then grabbed another on her penultimate hole, the par-three eighth, arrowing a tee-shot to eight feet and rolling in the birdie putt.

Wichanee revealed afterward she had nearly been overcome with nerves before the start of her second round.

"Before the tee time, I was so nervous," she said. "Like my hands just shaking, my brain just stop working...I know that the course is hard; just go with the flow probably."

No one had been more surprised by her dazzling early birdie blitz than Wichanee herself.

"To be honest, I don't know who she is the first four holes – but I'm glad that she came," she said. "The first four holes, I just picked the club that's shorter and hit it hard."


Lee, the world number 49, mounted her own charge just after the turn, holing out from 180 yards for a brilliant eagle on the par-four first, before nailing three straight birdies.

Two bogeys down the stretch denied her a share of the lead alongside Wichanee.

"It's really tough out there," Lee said. "The course requires all of your attention on every single golf shot.

"But par is a really, really good score out here, so that's what I'm going to try and do on the weekend, just try and make as many pars as I can."

Lee is one shot clear of Australia's Minjee Lee and Japan's Yuka Saso, both former champions who are tied for third on one under.

Eight players share fifth on one over heading into the weekend, where American star Korda is the most high-profile absentee.

Korda started the day with a mountain to climb after a disastrous 10-over-par opening 80 on Thursday.

Although the 25-year-old steadied the ship in her second round with a level-par 70, it was not enough to get her inside the 36-hole cut line, which came at eight over.

"I knew it was going to be a tough day," Korda said. "There's not many low scores out here, and I was pretty far back.

"I tried to give it my all. That's what I do with every round. I had nothing to lose, so that was kind of like the mentality. Just go for it."

Korda's opening round unraveled after a horror 10 on the par-three 12th hole on Thursday.

History almost repeated itself on the same hole on Thursday when her tee shot came up short and threatened to roll into the water before coming to a rest on the edge of the moat at the front of the green.

Korda chipped on and then made a long putt to save par for a three.

"I wanted to make a birdie to get my revenge on that hole, but par will do," she said.