Ally Ewing opens up five-strokes lead over the field at the AIG Women’s Open

Leona Maguire hoping putter warms up over the weekend after second straight level-par 72

If there was a sense that American Ally Ewing was playing a different course to everyone else in the AIG Women’s Open at Walton Heath Golf Club in Surrey on Friday, where the three-time LPGA Tour winner opened up a five-strokes lead over her nearest pursuers at the midpoint in her quest for a breakthrough Major title, there was also a belief that the deal is far from done.

Indeed, Ewing herself was aware as anyone of where she was at in terms of the lead she’ll carry into the weekend and how she must handle it.

“You can’t really suppress it. Like, I’m going to know where I’m at obviously but mentally you have to be ready to regroup, because the past is the past,” said Ewing. “Nothing that I’ve done through 36 holes can do anything for me for the next 36, so I’m just going to be mentally prepared for each individual day that presents itself.”

Ewing’s work halfway through the championship has given her a healthy lead of five shots over England’s Charley Hull, Japan’s Minami Katsu and her compatriot Andrea Lee. Among the big-name casualties who missed the cut were Lydia Ko, the world number five, and Brooke Henderson, the world number nine.


For Leona Maguire, it was again another day where patience was required. Time and time again the 28-year-old Cavan golfer found fairways and used her fairway woods and hybrids to set up birdie chances but, time and time again, the putter stayed stubbornly cold.

It was to Maguire’s credit that she stuck to her task and produced birdies on the 14th and 17th holes to get away from the cutline and to ultimately sign for a second successive 72 for level-par 144, that had her in tied-40th position.

“Tee-to-green, I played really solid today and played way better than I did yesterday. I, gave myself a lot of chances, just a few three-putts which were a bit of a killer for momentum. And I felt like I played well enough to shoot four-, five-under, so just those three-putts are kind of what held me back,” admitted Maguire.

“I feel like if I play the same way tee-to-green as I did today and omit those three-putts, I’d be well in it at this point. So just more of that and a little bit better press on the greens.”

Maguire joined Stephanie Meadow, who was under the weather, in safely surviving the cut, although Meadow – who added a 74 to her opening 71 for 145, one over – did so with a shot to spare as the cutmark fell on two over.

Meadow had talked after her round of a “nerve-racking” wait but, as the day progressed and the wind picked up, it became clear from an earlier stage than she might have envisaged that she was safe and through to the weekend in her bid to continue a strong run of form, which had a tied-third place finish in last month’s KPMG Women’s PGA at Baltusrol as a high point so far.

“I’m not feeling my best by any means, so I’m glad to have even finished two rounds to be honest. I’ve got a cold, so I gave it all I had,” said Meadow, who was in tied-47th at the halfway stage.

And although acknowledging that Ewing had made a run on everyone, Meadow insisted of a bunched leaderboard some way behind her: “If you play good, shoot three-, four-under, you can make some serious moves on the weekend.”

In the Scottish Challenge on the DP World Challenge Tour, Ulsterman Jonathan Caldwell added a second round 68 to his opening 66 for 134 to reach the midpoint in second place, a stroke behind American Jordan Gumberg in the tournament at Newmachar Golf Club outside Aberdeen.

Conor Purcell (70 for 140) and Dermot McElroy (69 for 140) in tied-49th survived on the cutline.

Philip Reid

Philip Reid

Philip Reid is Golf Correspondent of The Irish Times