Birdie binge puts Sorenstam in command at U.S. Senior Women’s Open

FAIRFIELD — It was a race against darkness to complete the second round of the U.S. Senior Women’s Open on Friday afternoon at Brooklawn Country Club.

Severe thunderstorms on Thursday afternoon only allowed half the field to complete their opening round. Everyone else had to come back to finish Friday morning once the grounds crew was able to restore Brooklawn CC back into playable condition.

Then nearly 11 hours of the second round was played. When play was completed Friday, the tournament favorite was still standing at the top of the leaderboard.

Annika Sorenstam birdied three consecutive holes in the growing darkness to stand at 8-under through two rounds. She leads by 3 over Liselotte Neumann, who she played with in the first two rounds.

“Yeah, I really haven't been leading in the weekend for what, 13 years?” Sorenstam said. “So I hope that tomorrow I wake up and it's going to feel like it was yesterday. But I'm just going to take all the good momentum I have. I'm hitting the ball well and I love the golf course. Going to go out and try to be more aggressive on the greens.”

Sorenstam followed up an opening round of 67 with a 3-under 69 thanks to those three birdies on holes 7, 8 and 9. She began her round on hole No. 12.

Play was halted at 8:12 p.m. Golfers are allowed the option of completing the hole that they are on. Sorenstam, Neumann and Laura Davies were on the final hole.

“The course is playing great. I love the condition. I really think that they drained superbly. It was almost two inches of rain. Any other course would probably have a harder time, so grateful for that,” Sorenstam said.

Neumann posted a two-round total of 5-under 139. Yuko Saito and Ellen Port are tied for third at 4-under

Dana Ebster the first-round co-leader with Sorenstam, Kris Tschetter and Rosie Jones are tied for fifth.

There are five groups left on the course. All of them will have to return to complete their rounds on Saturday beginning at 8 a.m.

The top 50 players and ties will advance to Saturday’s third round. They will go off both the first and 12th tees in threesomes beginning at 10:30 a.m. to get back on schedule for Sunday’s final round.

The projected cut is currently at 8-over-par 152. Those who will miss the cut are former U.S. Women’s Open champions Jan Stephenson (158), JoAnne Carner (161) and Jerilyn Britz (176), who won the 1979 Open played here at Brooklawn CC.

Neumann birdied her final two holes (10 and 11) to vault into second place and Saturday’s final pairing with Sorenstam.

“That's kind of what I been working for, and just trying to be somewhere close to the lead going into the weekend, that's what you hope for. I been trying to spend a lot time on the golf course lately, so I'm extremely happy,” Neumann said.

Saito had to complete the final eight holes of her opening round on Friday morning. She then had a brief break before having to go back out for the second round at 11:17 a.m.

Saito birdied holes 3, 8 and 13 to get to 4-under and, at the time, only trailing Sorenstam by a shot.

“Putting was great and like short putts and all the putts I made. It was great,” said Saito, who lives in Japan.

Saito said she came to the United States just to play in tis championship event. And it is not an easy commitment.

“There is nothing coming here (COVID testing), but going back 14 days. That's a big commitment,” Saito said

Ebster, who hails from Modesto, California, shot a 2-over 74. Like Saito, Ebster is a relative unknown in tournament golf. After her opening round of 67, the list was long of congratulatory messages on her cell phone.

“Oh, my gosh. My phone was blowing up,” Ebster said. “I mean, I heard from people that I hadn't heard from (in awhile), which was awesome because I had lost contact because I had lost my phone so I lost some of their numbers. It was so nice to see everybody supporting me.”

Port, an amateur, has won seven USGA amateur titles.

“All my years of grinding and having to play through not having some great ball striking and putting issues has served me well,” Port said.

There are just eight players under par in the championship. Saito was the only player from the morning wave to finish under par for two rounds.; @nhrJoeMorelli