Lee capitalises on Creamer capitulation at Evian Championship

By Sports Desk July 26, 2019

Lee Mi-hyang heads a South Korean-dominated leaderboard at the halfway stage of the Evian Championship after first-round leader Paula Creamer fell from contention with a nightmare Friday outing.

Creamer shot a superb 64 on Thursday at Evian-les-Bains but the former U.S. Women's Open champion's latest major bid hit trouble as she carded a five-over 76.

She is tied 24th on two under overall, despite not dropping a shot for her first 30 holes of the competition. A missed six-foot putt for par on 13 on the other side of a one-hour lightning delay set in motion a dismal run that saw Creamer play the final six holes in seven over.

Lee and her compatriots were the main beneficiaries – the 26-year-old ending her round birdie, birdie, eagle in stark contrast to Creamer.

That meant a 67 to go alongside Thursday's 65 and 10 under through 36, although there is plenty of major-winning pedigree in the chasing pack just one shot back.

World number one Park Sung-hyun has compiled rounds of four and five under, while Kim Hyo-joo – winner in her first major at the Evian Championship back in 2014 – shot 64

Seven-time major winner Inbee Park completes the group of three Koreans on nine under.

China's Shanshan Feng has similarly carded two rounds in the sixties to lie fifth on seven under. Sweden's Caroline Hedwall was the only player to match Kim's seven under on Friday and is one of six on six under going into moving day.

Further forecasted storms on Saturday have seen third-round starting tee times brought forward to 07:00 (local time) off the first and 10th tees.

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    The former world number one signed for a seven-under 65 to move to 14 under for the tournament, clear of Bernd Wiesberger and overnight leader Francesco Laporta in a tie for second.

    Westwood posted gains on the third and fifth holes before hitting the front after a sublime approach saw him eagle the par-five eighth.

    A dropped shot on the 14th hole was followed by a birdie-par-birdie finish as Westwood, looking for a first win since the Nedbank Golf Challenge in November 2018, held onto top spot heading into round four.

    "It's always a bonus to be in contention and that's basically why we come out here," said Westwood.

    "I'm not going to lie, I didn't play a lot of golf coming into it, didn't know what to expect. To be in the lead with one round to go, it's a real positive.

    "I'm just going to go out there and play as well as I can and if it's good enough, then great. I know I'm talented enough to win the tournament, it's just a case of applying myself."

    Wiesberger finished with three birdies in succession to stay in touch, while a bogey at the second cost Laporta a share of the lead following a three-under 69.

    Matt Fitzpatrick is two shots back in fourth, while Kurt Kitayama and Sergio Garcia sit level on 11 under.

    Louis Oosthuizen, the runner-up at the South African Open last weekend, is at nine under and world number one Brooks Koepka had four bogeys in a round of 70 that leaves him five under.

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    Rickie Fowler moved into a share of the lead at The American Express after shooting an eight-under 64 in the second round on Friday.

    The American backed up his opening-round 65 with a stellar showing, this time at the Nicklaus Tournament Course at PGA West in California.

    Fowler produced a bogey-free round that included an eagle and six birdies as he climbed into 15 under.

    He is joined atop the leaderboard by Scottie Scheffler, who shot a 64 on the same course to be alongside Fowler with a one-stroke lead.

    Fowler made back-to-back birdies on holes 11 and 12 before delivering a strong finish, including the eagle at the par-five fourth – where a wonderful second shot set up a short putt.

    Andrew Landry carded an eight-under 64 at La Quinta Country Club to be outright third at 14 under.

    The round of the day belonged to Tony Finau, who carded a stunning 10-under 62 on the Nicklaus Tournament Course.

    Finau was three under through his first nine holes before birdieing seven of his last nine to be outright fourth at 13 under.

    Bud Cauley (64) is at 12 under, a shot ahead of Ted Potter Jr. (63), Im Sung-jae (66), Ryan Moore (65), Cameron Davis (67), Wes Roach (65) and Chase Seiffert (67).

    Adam Long, last year's winner when the tournament was called the Desert Classic, is back at five under and tied for 68th.

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    The 124-ranked Laporta lit up the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club on Friday, birdying six of the last eight holes to move above Matt Fitzpatrick and Rafa Cabrera Bello, .

    Laporta charged 49 places on the leaderboard to head into the weekend in the mix for a first European Tour title.

    He hit the turn in 33, having made three gains on the front nine of a bogey-free round.

    "I just want to enjoy the weekend," said the 29-year-old surprise front-runner, who will tee off on 10 under on Saturday.

    "I played solid all 18 holes, my putting was solid, my driver, my irons. 

    "I gave myself a lot of opportunities for birdies and so when I had the opportunities, I took them. Every time I was putting for birdie, I made it. It was a great day."

    Fitzpatrick had set the clubhouse target with a five-under 67 following four birdies in the last six holes.

    The Englishman is bogey-free for the week, sitting in a share of second with Cabrera Bello, who shot a four-under 68.

    Cabrera Bello's countryman Sergio Garcia, Li Haotong and Renato Paratore are two shots adrift of Laporta.

    Lee Westwood and Louis Oosthuizen are among five players on seven under, while world number one Brooks Koepka slipped back to three under with a three-over 75.

    Defending champion Shane Lowry will not be retaining his title after the Open champion missed the cut.

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