• 59°

Rain Rally: Higa holds onto US Women’s Open lead after delay

By PETE IACOBELLI AP Sports Writer
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Japan’s Mamiko Higa said she wasn’t nervous holding the first-round lead at the U.S. Women’s Open. Now, she’s given her nerves a much bigger test after Friday’s weather-delayed second round.
Higa shot an even-par 71 to maintain her edge in first appearance in the year’s second major. She rallied with three birdies on her final six holes to move in front of Jessica Korda and hold the halfway lead.
Higa, a 25-year-old known as part of a Japanese sports power couple with sumo wrestler husband Ikioi Shota, wasn’t worried after her opening surprise 65, the lowest debut round in tournament history.
“After I finished, (Thursday) night i didn’t feel that much pressure. I wasn’t nervous,” she said through an interpreter.
Higa showed those steely nerves after the rain delay of 1 hour, 58 minutes. Trailing Korda by a shot, she rolled in an 11-footer for birdie on her first stroke back.
She followed that up with two more birdies, both which moved her in front of Korda and into the lead after 36 holes at the Country Club of Charleston. On her final hole, the ninth, with darkness closing in, Higa confidently struck a 14-footer for birdie.
“I feel very lucky that I could finish up 18 holes today so that I can recover well for tomorrow,” she said.
There were 45 players still on the course when the horn sounded. They’ll return Saturday to finish before the third round starts. The tournament announced players will go off in threesomes to ensure getting the round in.
Korda shot a 68, her lowest score in 38 career rounds in the major tournament.
American amateur Gina Kim had a 72 to join Celine Boutier of France at 4 under. Boutier had four holes to play.
Lexi Thompson and Nelly Korda, Jessica’s younger sister, were among four players at 3 under. Thompson has two holes to play, and Nelly Korda three. Also at 3 under were American Jaye Marie Green and South Korea’s Jeongeun Lee6. Green shot a 68 and Lee6 — who adopted her unique name after the Korean LPGA dubbed her with it because five other players had registered with the same name — a 69.
Two-time U.S. Women’s Open champion Inbee Park was among a group of eight at 2 under after her second straight 70.
World No. 1 Jin Young Ko was at even par after a 70 while defending tournament champion Ariya Jutanugarn was a 2 over with two holes left.
Jessica Korda finished her bogey-free performance — just her fifth sub-70 showing in 38 career rounds of this major — well before thunderstorms caused a nearly two-hour weather delay.
Jessica Korda, playing in milder morning conditions, did not get her round going until making a birdie on the par-5 15th hole — she opened on the back nine — and followed that with another on the par-3 17th.
Her final birdie came on the par-5 fifth and came just short of the green in two, then chipped up within three feet to move to 5-under as she finished before Higa teed off.
Jessica Korda planned to be more aggressive on the par fives and accomplished that with birdies on two of the tree on Charleston’s par-71 layout. She left her approach on the final par-5, the ninth hole, about 40 feet away and settled for par.
Jessica Korda was happy with her approach to not get ahead of herself. “It’s a U.S. Open,” she said. “Patience is the name of the game.”
New professionals Jennifer Kupcho and Maria Fassi were both inside the projected cut line of 3 over with holes remaining. Kupcho, the Augusta National women’s amateur champion was at even par with three holes left. Fassi, the NCAA women’s individual champ, was 3 over with three holes remaining.
There was a massive lightning strike during the delay , hitting a large tree alongside the 18th fairway with a loud boom that sounded like an explosion that was heard throughout the clubhouse area where players, caddies and tournament staffers and volunteers took shelter.
“It was very scary. I’m glad everyone was okay,” said Emma Talley, who won the 2013 U.S. Women’s Amateur here and is competing this week. “I was scared it hit one of the tents, but I’m glad it hit the tree instead.”
The field will be cut to the top 60 scorers and ties after the second round is complete.
___
More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Comments

Education

RSS talks first steps for new federal relief totaling $66 million

China Grove

Gary’s Barbecue staff, customers look back at 50 years

News

Salisbury Lions Club names Person of the Year, Lion of the Year at 78th annual banquet

Education

Student COVID-19 numbers show first decline since plan A

High School

High school golf: Fowler competes in state tournament

News

Amazon announces new distribution center for North Carolina

News

House passes bill to bar Cooper from mandating COVID shot

Coronavirus

Rowan County sees death 302 from COVID-19; Health Department to host final mass vaccine clinic

Ask Us

Ask Us: What happened to work on South Fulton Street home?

Crime

Blotter: Woman says she was shot in hand on Lincolnton Road

Crime

Rowan Sheriff’s Office charges Salisbury man with operating illegal gambling business

Crime

Blotter: Rockwell man arrested on felony drug, breaking and entering charges

Local

Rep. Amber Baker discusses legislative session during Rowan Democrats breakfast meeting

Local

Thousands of locals, out-of-towners gather for a groovy time at annual Hippie Fest

News

N.C. Zoo ready for expansion if lawmakers OK funding

Education

RSS budgeting for tens of millions in federal COVID-19 relief funding

East Spencer

‘Back in full swing’ for the spring: East Spencer community gathers for food, fun and fellowship at Spring Fest

Local

Rowan native Lingle among those honored with NC Military Veterans Hall of Fame induction

Business

Former pro baseball player, Tar Heel standout Russ Adams finds new career with Trident Insured

Education

Profoundly gifted: Salisbury boy finishing high school, associates degree at 12

Local

Cheerwine Festival will stick to Main Street, stay away from new park in September

Lifestyle

Celebrating Rowan County’s early cabinetmakers

Education

Service Above Self announces youth challenge winners

Business

Economic Development Commission creates search tool for people seeking Rowan County jobs