Angela Stanford, who is lying on five under par with Song-Hee Kim going into the third round of the HSBC Women’s Champions, is not remotely surprised that the 49-year-old Juli Inkster is among those lurking just one shot off the lead.
“I don’t know Tiger Woods but I’ve always said that Juli is the most competitive player of them all,” said Stanford.
The Solheim Cup golfer noted that the 71 she tacked to her opening 68 featured two halves – 33 and 38 - which were every bit as different as the figures would suggest. There was a thoroughly disconcerting wind on the back nine and one which contributed to the bad decisions she made at the 14th and 18th. On each occasion, her shot to the green veered off course and she failed to get down in a chip and a putt.
“I’m disappointed,” she admitted. “If you have the opportunity to create a bit of space between you and the rest you should always take it. I didn’t.”
Kim had the homeward half Stanford would have wanted – namely, a one-under-par 35 for the 70 which lifted her to five under. This Korean has an ice-cool exterior but insists that her emotions will often come to the surface, if not quite to the same extent as those of a Christina Kim.
Inkster was not raving about her four-under tally. Not by any means. Having started with a couple of birdies, she signed off with two bogeys, partly because of the wind and partly because she is not yet on the best of terms with her new irons.
When, because of the new rules pertaining to grooves, she had to change her clubs, there were no new shafts to match her old ones. “My three-quarter shots are going as far as full shots and I’ve got no idea how far I’m hitting the thing.” she complained.
At the 17th, she missed the green when she had nothing more than a nine-iron in hand while, when it came to the last, she miscued with a seven iron to leave herself with arguably the most unappetising chip that the hole has to offer.
Her ball ran past the flag and she duly missed the three-footer which would have had seen her sitting alongside Stanford and Kim.
Asked for the secret to her golfing longevity, Inkster laughingly suggested that it could be “stupidity”. In fact, she loves what she does. Having started golf later than most and never having had anyone chasing her out to play or practise, she finds that the fun has stayed firmly in place.
A happily married mother of two, she says that her balanced lifestyle is probably no bad thing. “I don’t care over-much about my golf and I certainly don’t take it home with me any more.”
Last year, when she played in what was her eighth Solheim Cup, Inkster said it was her last. Stanford is just one player out here who is even now urging her to try for the team next year in Ireland.
Michelle Wie was dragged down by an early double-bogey in her second round and eventually signed off for the day at one over par for the tournament. That, though, paled into insignificance as against what happened to Lorena Ochoa. Having opened with a 68, the World No. 1 plummeted to a 79 in which her back nine took in three bogeys and a watery triple-bogey.