Minjee Lee and Su Oh have thrust themselves right into Women’s British Open contention with the Australian duo in a traffic jam of title hopefuls at the halfway point at Carnoustie.
In what’s becoming the most open of Opens on the famous Scottish links, a whole host of players cashed in on the most unexpected of slumps by overnight leader, US superstar and newly minted Olympic gold medallist Nelly Korda, on Friday.
“Everyone keeps talking about how I’m playing so well, but I’m going to shoot bad scores,” a glum Korda sighed, after shooting a one-over-par 73 that leaves her three off the 36-hole lead shared by England’s former winner Georgia Hall and American Mina Harigae.
“Just a little punch of reality that I’m human.”
And the human’s still in the thick of things.
The top 17 are separated by just three shots at halfway — and among them are Evian winner Lee, who’s in good shape to launch a weekend attack on a second straight major, and Melbourne’s Oh.
Both are also on four-under.
There was also an amazing comeback from Sydney’s rising 20-year-old Steph Kyriacou, who looked to have little chance of making the cut at one-over when she suffered a wretched outward nine of 40.
Yet after the turn, the Ladies European Tour’s rookie of the year made four birdies, as well as an eagle at the par 5 12th, to come home in a wholly unlikely 30 and move to two-under for the championship.
After being egged on by an unlikely new fan — the scoreboard carrier giving her encouragement on the course — she laughed: “I really don’t know how I did it on that back nine … I’ve got good momentum going.”
Lee seems to be warming ominously to her task, shooting a 69, featuring three birdies on the inward nine, the third of which was set up at the last hole by a glorious approach.
Oh made a blistering start with four birdies in the first eight holes, a monster 30-foot birdie putt on the seventh being the highlight of her 69.
“I’d love to make a charge this weekend,” she said.
Hannah Green doesn’t think she’s out of it either, sitting at one-under par after a round of 70.
“I hope I can have an early tee time on the weekend and maybe post a number and come-from-behind,” she said.
The weather was again breezy but pretty kind on Friday by Carnoustie standards, yet the forecast is not so great for the weekend.
“Only five shots back — it’s nothing in links golf,” Kyriacou said, shrugging.
The other half of the Australian contingent failed to make the cut, though, with Whitney Hillier (74), Katherine Kirk (78) and Sarah Kemp (76) and Kirsten Rudgeley (76) missing out.
Amateur Rudgeley never gave up, finishing a nightmare two days that saw her propping up the field at 18-over with a defiant farewell birdie at the 18th.
Germany’s defending champ Sophia Popov double-bogeyed the last when par would have booked her weekend spot.
At the other end of the leaderboard, Hall, who broke England’s 14-year Open title drought at Royal Lytham in 2018, carded a three-under-par 69 in more unusually soft scoring conditions.
One stroke behind Hall and Harigae, who shot 67, is world number four Sei Young Kim (71) and Lizette Salas (69), who finished second to Korda at the PGA Championship in June.