FRENCH LICK, Ind. – The wind blew harder and from a different direction in Saturday’s second round of the LPGA Legends Championship. Some of the pin positions at the Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort were more difficult, too.
“Add in that Pete Dye designed this place, and that raised it another notch,’’ added Canadian Lorie Kane, who appreciated the change in conditions and coped with them better than most of her rivals. “The golf course played very tough.’’
Still, Kane posted 2-under-par 70 and ended the day in a tie for the lead with Laurie Rinker at 3-under-par 141. Val Skinner, who also shot 70, was alone in third, a shot back of the co-leaders, and no other players were under par for the first 36 holes of the 54-hole test that pays $75,000 to the champion after Sunday’s final round.
The $500,000 purse and 58-player field make this the biggest event in the 13-year history of the LPGA’s official senior circuit.
Skinner, who doubles as an analyst for Golf Channel, started her round with two bogeys, but found herself suddenly in contention after making a 25-foot birdie putt at No. 17 and adding another bird at the par-5 finishing hole. Like Kane she did some muttering about the Dye design style, described by Jan Stephenson before the tournament as “diabolical.’’
“It was a lot of fun to play, but you’ve got to get control of your ball,’’ said Skinner. “It’s in great shape and a nice walk out there, but I said Pete’s name a few times. It was tough, a very challenging golf course.’’
No one could appreciate that any better than first-round leader Dina Ammaccapane. She posted a women’s course record 66 on Friday before soaring to an 81 on Saturday.
Rinker, her playing partner in the last group, was two shots back when play started. She got within one with a birdie at No. 2 and was the solo leader after Ammaccapane made double bogey at the par-3 fourth. On Saturday Rinker celebrated her 51st birthday.
“But I feel a couple years older after that round,’’ she said. “I’m still very pleased with my position.’’
Kane was in the thick of things in the Legends’ last tournament, the Harris Charity Classic in Maine. She wound up losing the title to Rosie Jones in a five-hole playoff. Kane said that difficult loss carried no scars.
“At this day and age in my career I’m just happy for being able to compete with the great legends of this game,’’ said Kane. “(In Sunday’s final round) I’ll just try to make as many birdies as I can. You’ve got the women who got the LPGA Tour to the next level, and now they’re getting the Legends Tour to the next level. I can only imagine that they’ll come out firing. No lead is safe.’’
Not many came out firing on Saturday. Jean Bartholomew was an exception. She shot the day’s best of four sub-par round – a 3-under 69. The four-player Super Senior tournament got started with Jane Blalock posting a 1-over-par 73 from shorter tees than the regular Legends players used. She owns a five-stroke lead on Sandra Palmer in that 36-hole competition.