Mo Martin had a plan for Royal Birkdale, and it is working better than she imagined at the Ricoh Women’s British Open.
Martin took two putts from short of the green on the par-five 18th hole Friday for her 10th birdie in two rounds, and her second straight three-under 69. That gave the American a three-shot lead over Beatriz Recari of Spain and former US Women’s Open champion So Yeon-ryu going into the weekend.
“It’s always nice when your plan pans out,” Martin said. “So it’s fun to be here.”
For Michelle Wie, it was fun while it lasted. Coming off her first major in the US Women’s Open at Pinehurst No. 2, Wie kept putting herself in tough spots and could not convert enough pars. She followed her highest score of the year (75) with one that was even worse, a 78 to miss the cut by three shots.
Wie was among the favorites. It was easy to overlook the 31-year-old Martin, who has never won an LPGA Tour event and is playing links golf for only the third time.
She is 1.58m and among the shortest hitters in women’s golf. That figured into her strategy at Royal Birkdale, which is littered with pot bunkers and is framed by dunes covered in thick grass.
“Every hole you have something to think about. Every single shot you have something to think about,” Martin said. “But there’s fairway there, and there’s green there, and that’s what I’m focusing on. ... My caddie and I just figured out where the widest parts of the fairway were, where I would have the best approaches into the greens.”
She made it sound so simple, even as Royal Birkdale has been plenty tough in pristine weather for these parts — a steady wind, but not as strong as it could be.
Martin was at six-under 138, one of only two players to break par in both rounds.
Ryu was the other, overcoming a double bogey on her second hole by not dropping a shot the rest of the way. She shot 70 and was at three-under 141. Recari, who arrived at Birkdale with a sore wrist that she attributed to no one helping her carry her luggage in the airport, birdied the last three holes for a 67.
Ahn Sun-Ju also had six birdies in a round of 67 that left her one shot behind at two-under 142, along with Julieta Granada (70). Only nine players were under par when the cut was made at six-over 150.
The accuracy of Martin has been critical, for it does not take much to get out of position at Royal Birkdale, and escaping is never easy.