Stacy Lewis fired a scorching course record 63 in the second round of the women’s golf competition to stand on the brink of Olympic glory at the end of a whirwind two weeks in which she got married and became an Olympic athlete.
The much-decorated American takes everything in her stride, even preparing for a visit to the Olympic diving event soon after compiling the eight-under-par round which propelled her into the medal positions on 133, nine under par, just one off the pace set by Inbee Park of Korea.
However, watching the talented divers may act as a springboard to success on Saturday afternoon, when Lewis attempts to follow in the footsteps of her compatriot, Margaret Abbot, who won for the United States in Paris way back in 1900.
First, though, the new Mrs. Chadwell faces the challenge of overhauling Park, who continued her impressive recovery from a thumb injury by matching her opening 66 for a 36-hole total of 132.
Lewis carved out 11 birdies during a brilliant performance on the Olympic course, lowering Park’s course record from Wednesday by two shots. Even a bogey and a double-bogey at the 14th failed to halt her inexorable progress up a cosmopolitan leaderboard.
On the contrary, the 31-year-old recovered from that bogey blow on the 14th by closing with four straight birdies to match the 63 shot by Marcus Fraser in the men’s competition exactly one week earlier.
“I guess I have a course record here, and it’s great to put my name on that, and being near the top of the leaderboard at the Olympics,” said Lewis. “It’s something that, I think, every kid is going to dream of doing.”
She added: “It’s been such a cool week so far, and the highlight for me was just getting to see the guys up there on the podium on 18 on Sunday getting their medals and just thinking about how cool that would be to be in their shoes and be doing that on Saturday. It’s definitely a motivating factor but I’ve had a great week and we’re enjoying it so far.”
Park, the seven-time major winner, admitted that she arrived in Rio more in hope than expectation after a lengthy lay-off due to the on-going thumb injury. However, the Korean has plotted a steady course for two days and said: “I was able to convert the birdies today. I missed a couple of tee shots, so I was in the sand area, but I was able to convert them into birdies. That’s really the key for today’s round.”
The leaderboard reflects the global nature of the competition, with a league of nations contending inside the top ten of an exciting women’s event. Hard on the heels of Park and Lewis are Canadian Brooke Henderson and Charley Hull, bidding to follow the gold medal performance of her fellow Briton, Justin Rose, last Sunday. Henderson also went low wth a 64 while Hull tagged a 66 onto her initial 68 for an eight-under-par total of 134.
Right behind the leaders are three players on seven under par, Marianne Skarpnord of Norway, Denmark’s Nicole Broch Larsen and Candie Kung of Chinese Taipei while the youngest player in the field, 18-year-old Aditi Ashok carries the hopes of India at six-under-par.