Mr. Rodgers' neighborhood: The lead

Writing from Silvis, Illinois

Friday, July 14, 2017

Kevin Tway was feeling pretty good about his standing in the John Deere Classic after bagging nine birdies across 10 holes in the second round.

Then the rest of the afternoon wave came through.

It was more like a tsunami.

Tway, even after a career-best 8-under-par 63, is tied for fifth going into the weekend at TPC Deere Run.

That’s how it is in the Deere, where the track meet of birdies begins Thursday morning and never lets up. A daily bushelful of birdies is mandatory to stay among the leaders. Par is rarely a friend. Bogeys are toxic.

Tway birdied seven straight holes, just like daddy Bob Tway once did on the circuit, taking himself from 1-under – which would have missed the cut – to 8-under, and eventually got to the lead at 10-under before a bogey dropped him to 9-under-par 133.

The 63 was the day’s best round, but here in Birdieville, he’s four strokes behind Patrick Rodgers, who made Tway’s binge look like kid stuff. Rodgers sank 146 feet of putts en route to a 7-under 64, including a 51-foot putt on the par-3 seventh and a 27-footer on the par-4 eighth. He also chipped in for birdie on the third hole, a bonus bird that offset his bogey on the ninth, his last hole of the day and only bogey of the week.

Still, at 13-under 129 he’s the leader at the halfway point. Bryson DeChambeau, who added a 65 to a 66 for 11-under 131, is second, with 2010 champion and tournament board member Zach Johnson tied with Charles Howell III for third at 10-under 132.

Then there’s Tway and his pals at 133: Chesson Hadley, Chad Campbell and J.J. Henry.

“I was kind of hoping it would never stop, but it did,” Tway said. “You’ve got to make a lot of birdies around here, so I’ll just keep trying to do that.”

Rodgers is 25 and seems to have been playing in the Deere since he was 12. It’s actually his sixth appearance, with 11 rounds in the 60s out of 16. He tied for 15th as an amateur in 2013, and briefly led on Saturday.

“My dad took a screenshot of the leaderboard, and framed it,” Rodgers recalled.

Pops Rodgers might get a picture of his kid with the trophy on Sunday night. His tee-to-green game is back in shape, he’s been putting like the devil for close to three months, and just enough of a rare cooling north wind on Friday made him take notice.

“I was very much focused on the task at hand,” Rodgers said. “It was breezy enough where you just had to be locked in for every shot. I did a nice job staying present and patient all day.

“It was one of those days where you look up at the leader board and you’re 6-, 7-, 8-under.”

DeChambeau, whose clubs are the same length, went back to the putter he used to win the 2015 U.S. Amateur at Olympia Fields, which explains needing only 26 putts on Friday and 56 in 36 holes.

“It’s just a product of taking out as many variables as possible,” said DeChambeau, who played with Rodgers. “I had great control speed and I got lucky a couple times. Now I feel I’m really turning the right direction, being able to see reads, confirm them, and be able to execute them online.”

Like Rodgers, DeChambeau was previously given a sponsor exemption by tournament director Clair Peterson. He missed the cut in 2015, but learned something.

“You have to have a really good wedge game and understand how to hit shots in the wind, control trajectory, spin rates, everything like that,” DeChambeau said. “That’s what I was able to do beautifully this week – or today.”

Johnson’s quiet 4-under 67 – no birdies on par 5s – on top of his opening 65 kept him in contention at the tournament the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, native holds closest to his heart.

“I’m very comfortable,” Johnson said. “I feel my best game is still in front of me. I wish I could have taken more advantage of the par-5s today. It’s not exactly ideal. I think I had three putts inside eight or nine feet that I missed. (But) there are way more positives right now than negatives.”

Around Deere Run

There’s a fight for low amateur, with Maverick McNealy of Stanford and Northbrook’s Nick Hardy of Illinois at 5-under 137. ... The cut fell at 2-under 140, the highest since a similar trim in 2014, and kept 82 players around for the weekend. Among those going home early: Illinois senior-to-be Dylan Meyer (142), D.A. Points (144), defending champion Ryan Moore (145), and local fan favorite Kurt Slattery (147, a 76 following his opening 71). ... Max Homa, who stood 4-under with five holes to play but bogeyed three of his last five holes to finish at 1-under 141, also missed the cut. He’s made the cut once in a dozen tries this season. ... Angel Cabrera became the third player to withdraw, pulling the pin after going out in 5-over 41 on Friday to stand at 7-over after 27 holes. ... Tway’s seven-birdie run was impressive, but the tournament record is eight by Fuzzy Zoeller at Oakwood Country Club in the second round of the 1976 Ed McMahon-Jaycees Quad Cities Open. He finished second. ... The scoring average was 69.771, lowest in the second round since 2013. The day’s 575 birdies pushes the three day total to 1,236, a good start for the tournament’s “Birdies for Charity” initiative.

Tim Cronin


Howell, Schneiderjans lead the way at the Deere

Writing from Silvis, Illinois

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Really, now. The name of this tournament is the John Deere Classic, but considering the health of the leaders, shouldn’t it be sponsored by Palmer Chiropractic, the big school across the river in Davenport?

Charles Howell III is coming off a serious rib injury.

Ollie Schneiderjans was out nine weeks with back trouble.

Each scored 8-under-par 63 at rain-softened TPC Deere Run in Thursday’s fourth round of the 47th Deere, the Quad Cities’ annual festival of golf. Howell set the target score in the morning and Schneiderjans matched it in the afternoon.

They lead local hero Zach Johnson, Rory Sabbatini, Patrick Rodgers and Chad Campbell by two strokes, and a sixsome including perennial Deere contender Daniel Summerhays and quirkmeister Bryson DeChambeau by three.

For Howell and Schneiderjans, it now feels so good.

“With my injury, all I could do was putt,” Howell said of his several weeks of enforced idleness after surgery. “It drove me nuts, just not being able to play golf. But I realized how lucky I am to play golf for a living. I missed competing out here.”

Howell sank 123 feet, 9 inches feet worth of putts en route to his bogey-free 63, with eight birdies. His highlight-reel putt was a 26-footer that curled in on the par-3 seventh.

Impressive though that was, Howell was correct in saying the week was young.

“To contend, you have to putt well for four days,” Howell said.

Schneiderjans’ back tightened up at Colonial thanks to a too-cold hotel room, and he ended up pulling a muscle. That sidelined him post-Memorial to now, but you couldn’t tell it, considering his nine-birdie showing.

“It’s still sort of there,” Schneiderjans said. “It lingered and I tried to play through it. It’s been fine the last three weeks.”

He made 90 feet of putts, including 26-footer for a birdie on the par-3 third – his 12th holes of the day – and finished his round with three birdies in four holes, going 3-3-3-3. And the par was a tap-in.

“I changed a little bit of my (putting) routine midway through the round, made a little adjustment,” Schneiderjans said.

He didn’t divulge the change, but he’d best keep to it. His 5-under 30 on that side matched the low for the day.

Sabbatini, hitting 13 fairways, shot 65 with a double-bogey early in his round, but ran off six birdies on an inward 30.

“I really tried to focus on making sure I was precise with what I was trying to do out there,” Sabbatini said. “I kind of had a little bit of everything going.”

Johnson, the 2012 winner, his all but his last green in regulation to open with 65 for the second straight year, and his 31st round in the 60s in 33 starts.

“With this Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday rain we had, it’s one of those where you feel you have to keep the pedal down,” Johnson said. “I think my irons were the best part of my game today.”

Bubba Watson, who played only nine holes before Thursday, punched out a 2-under 69, including an eagle 3 on the par-5 second. But he was even par after a bogey on 13, rallying by sinking a four-footer for birdie on the 14th and a 12-footer for birdie on the 17th.

He might need a 69 again Friday to make the cut. Five of the last seven years, 4-under 138 has been the number needed to advance to the weekend.

Illini Watch

Amateur Dylan Meyer, who rolled in Sunday to get what he called “the shock and awe out of the way,” looked like a veteran in the first round, scoring 1-under-par 70 to lead the contingent of University of Illinois-connected players past and present. He was 2-under after a birdie on the 13th, but gave one back on the next hole before parring in.

Nick Hardy, Meyer’s roommate at Illinois, scored even-par 71, with five birdies, three bogeys and a double-bogey 6 on the 13th, and is tied for 76th.

Among the graduates from Champaign, three-time winner Steve Stricker fired a 2-over-par 73 with one birdie, but at 50, he’s the low senior. D.A. Points has made the cut only once in 11 years, and he’s in line to miss it again without a rally after opening with a 3-over-par 74.

Maverick McNealy of Stanford, the third amateur in the field, opened with a 2-under 69.

Around Deere Run

Defending champion Ryan Moore opened with a 3-over-par 74 and is tied for 129th going into Friday’s play. ... Local hero Kurt Slattery has had an adventure this week, first on Monday by qualifying in Pinnacle Golf Club, where he’s an assistant pro, by eagling the 18th hole from the fairway to make a playoff and then eagling again to grab the fourth spot available in the field. Thursday, he elicited a roar from gallery pals by making a birdie on his sixth hole and was 1-under on his ninth, the par-4 18th. A shanked second after a perfect drive led to a double-bogey. He doubled his next hole as well, but rebounded with four birdies in the next six holes and finished at even-par 71. ... Danny Lee and Carl Pettersson withdrew, Lee after a 74 featuring an inward 4-over 39, Pettersson after an untidy 44 that finished 8-6 on the par-5 17th and par-4 18th. Pettersson had every number on his card from 2 through 8. ... The day’s scoring average was 70.716, the highest for an opening round since 2007 (70.840). Only five holes played under par, with the par-5 second, at 4.465, pulling the round average under par.

Tim Cronin


Kang captures Women's PGA, edging Henderson

Writing from Olympia Fields, Illinois

Sunday, July 2, 2017

The power of belief can carry someone a long way, whether that belief is from within or someone close.

Danielle Kang enjoyed that feeling all week at Olympia Fields Country Club.

First it was her brother Alex, to whom she turned when she was vexed as to her game plan on Olympia’s sturdy North Course. He looked at photos she sent him and together, they figured out a plan of attack.

Then she drew on the pleasant memories of conversations and encouragement from her father, K.S., who died of cancer late in 2013. Kang spoke of him in the present tense, and who not, for one of the tattoos on her right hand is “Dad” in his Korean writing.

“He doesn’t talk much. However, when he does say something, it means a lot. He’s the kind of guy that is very positive. Anything is possible. So I always looked at him like he’s magical, because he feels I can do anything,” Kang said late on Sunday afternoon.

After, of course, proving him correct by making a two-putt birdie 4 on the final hole of the final round to win the 63rd KPMG Women’s PGA Championship by a stroke over fast-closing defending champion Brooke Henderson.

Kang rolled in a two-foot putt for her fifth birdie of the back nine, an inward 32, a final round 3-under-par 68, and a total of 13-under-par 271 to win for the first time as a professional – and a major championship at that.

She had won back-to-back U.S. Women’s Amateurs in 2010 and 2011, so using the Bobby Jones tally system, this is her third major championship overall.

It came in dramatic fashion. She birdied four straight holes starting at the par-4 11th, rolling in 73 feet of putts – 12 feet on the 11th, 25 feet on the 12th, 30 feet on the 13th, and six feet on the 14th after a brilliant approach out of the rough 132 yards distant – to first climb back into a tie for the lead with Henderson and Chella Choi, and then build a three-stroke lead.

But Kang failed to save par from a greenside bunker on the par-3 17th, falling to 12-under. Minutes later, Henderson tapped in a 2-inch birdie putt at the last after leading a 30-foot eagle putt that short, and they were tied.

Kang’s 233-yard approach from the 18th fairway finished 25 feet below the hole. Two putts meant a birdie and victory, but there was work to be done.

“The first putt, I was just more worried about getting that speed right, because it was kind of gusty,” Kang said.

It finished two feet short by her estimation.

“Let me tell you, that was the hardest two-footer I’ve ever had to putt,” Kang said. “I had to tell myself, ‘Danielle, you don’t miss two-footers, so just putt it.’

“It was pretty nerve-wracking, but I just did it.”

It fell perfectly, the last of 40 birdies on the final hole on Sunday. Kang is the first to win with a birdie at the last in the LPGA / Women’s PGA since Meg Mallon in 1991.

“I just wanted to finish it off after a rocky start,” Kang said, thinking back to her three-putt bogey on the 10th hole. The four-birdie binge followed immediately.

“That was actually the turning point for me,” Kang said of the three-putt. “I said, ‘You know what, if I’m going to three-putt from 20 feet, I’m going to learn from it.’ Let’s just not hit it as hard.”

Like a Fourth of July fireworks display, they went boom-boom-boom-boom into the cup the next four holes.

A critical par-save on the par-4 16th via a 19-foot putt kept her at 13-under and made the bogey on the 17th less harmful to the cause.

“It looked like a 50-footer to me,” Kang said of the putt on the 16th.

By this point, it was between her and Henderson unless Choi, who bogeyed Nos. 9 and 11 to fall to 9-under, then birdied the 16th, birdied in. She did not, and finished with a par 71 for 10-under 274. Thus, Henderson’s birdie-birdie finish for 12-under 272 was the only pressure put on Kang on the back nine. She answered with a flourish.

Henderson, whose defense fell just short, wasn’t at all displeased.

“The birdie on 17 meant I had a chance,” said Henderson, whose 5-under 66 was the best round of the day. “On 18, that putt, I took some extra time, walked it twice to get the pace right. Missed it by an inch.”

And right in the jaws. This time, Henderson did not score for Canada. Maybe it was that string of pars from the 10th through the 16th that hurt more.

“I had a mix of good putts and some that could have been a bit better,” Henderson said. “I can’t complain. But if I made one or two, it would have been different.”

Kang had come close before, but in 143 previous starts as a professional had never finished better than in a tie for third, and her best finish in a major was a tie for 22nd in the 2013 LPGA Championship, as this fandango was then named. The close calls were, of course, nothing compared to losing her dad nearly four years ago after his long battle with brain cancer.

“It’s been a really difficult road for me for the past four or five years,” Kang said. “It’s life, though. You have to pick yourself up and keep working hard at it, then believe in what you’re doing.

“I know he (her dad) is here for it. What are the odds that my first win is a major? I’m pretty sure he had something to do with it. I felt him with me every day, and I still do.

“Over that last putt, for some reason, I remembered him telling me, ‘I’ll buy you a TV if you make this four-footer at the U.S. Am.' I remembered it. So I wasn’t even worried about the putt.”

It fell. So, as she told the story, did a tear.

Around Olympia

A severe squall lashed the course and the surrounding area about a hour after Kang sank the winning putt, blowing much that wasn’t nailed down through the air with winds estimated at 60 mph. Some trees were said to have been felled as well. But after that came a rainbow. The pot of gold seemed to be somewhere on the South Course, ticketed for Kang. ... Kang was pelted with pretzels, and then golf tees, by pal Michelle Wie while sitting in a radio booth in the press center and doing one last interview. Kang finally turned around and said, “How old are you?” giggling all the while. ... The field average for Round 4 was 71.853 strokes, moving the overall average of 72.305. ... Thirty-five players broke par for 72 holes, with another 10 at even par 284. ... World No. 1 So Yeon Ryu finished tied for 14th with a 1-over 72 for 4-under 280, but still made $47,606. ... World No. 3 Lydia Ko had an awful weekend, finishing 76-76 for 5-over 289. She made $8,686.

Tim Cronin


Kang, Choi share WPGA lead, many chase

Writing from Olympia Fields, Illinois

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Happy Canada 150 Day!

At one point early Saturday afternoon, there was a seven-way tie at 7-under-par for the lead in the 63rd KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. Danielle Kang, Sei Young Kim, Woon-jung “Chella” Choi, Michelle Wie, Brooke Henderson, Amy Yang and Brittany Lincicome were jammed into the top spot.

When the last putt fell on Olympia Fields Country Club’s North Course, only American Kang and South Korean Choi remained on top. Knotted at 10-under-par 203, they’ll play together Sunday in the final round of the year’s second major championship with a trophy and $525,000 on the line and 14 players within five strokes of them.

Only Jiyai Shin, a two-time major champion, is within two strokes. Her 7-under-par 64, the day’s best round, jumped her into solo third early in the afternoon. Defending champion Henderson is at 7-under 206 after a 2-under 69 on her native Canada’s 150th birthday, while Yang and Kim, like Choi from South Korea, are four back at 6-under 207 on a most international leader board.

Choi scored 4-under 67 to gain a share of the lead via birdies on the 14th and 18th holes. Kang birdied those holes as well, and would be the sole leader but for a bogey on the par-4 16th, her first three-putt of the tournament.

Choi’s round was bogey-free, which not only moved her to the front but gets her a gift from her dad, back as caddie the last four tournaments after a 10-week retirement. He had caddied for her since her junior days.

“He wanted to stay with my mom,” Choi said. “I lost my confidence. I said, ‘It’s very tough to play golf. Can you come back and help me, just a couple weeks? That’s why he come back. He says, ‘Just focus on golf, just one shot.’ ”

That worked. Choi had only 28 putts, saving par five times to go with the four birdies.

She’s not won a major, her best finish a tie for fifth in the then-LPGA Championship in 2013.

Kang won back-to-back U.S. Women’s Amateurs in 2010 and 2011, but hasn’t won since turning pro after the second U.S. Women’s Am title, and hasn’t finished better than tying for 14th in a major, that the 2012 U.S. Women’s Open. She tied for 22nd in the 2013 LPGA.

A stroke behind after 36 holes, she’s been getting advice from high places: Wayne Gretzky, Caitlyn Jenner and three-time U.S. Women’s Open champion Hollis Stacy either called or texted before the third round.

“Hollis said, ‘If you’re not nervous, what are you doing out there?’ ” Kang relayed, and added that brother Alex, whose advice she followed to the letter to craft her game plan for the week, said, “Stay aggressive. Your game’s perfect.”

It wasn’t quite that, but close enough. She finally bogeyed a hole – the par-4 third – but still went out in 2-under 34 and nearly botched the par-4 12th, the down-and-up eastbound classic adjacent to Vollmer Road that members play as the third hole. Her approach bounced off the hilltop green onto the slope well below the putting surface, and she had a difficult third. The pitch went two-thirds of the way up the hill. She was in danger of giving up the lead.

“The first chip I was being aggressive, but it came out soft,” Kang said. “I could either chip it normally and try to hit it close, but I said, ‘You know what, I like flop shots. I’m just going to flop it again.’ ”

It bounced onto the green and rolled into the hole, a par-saver to match Jerry Barber’s saved 4 on the same hole and the same side of the hill in the final round of the 1961 PGA Championship. He went on to win.

Shin was in the clubhouse, and just about headed back to her hotel, the ink dried on her 64 on the scoreboard, before the final twosome of Kang and Kim had played five holes. Four straight birdies and five in six holes coming in for a women’s course record 5-under 30 vaulted Shin up the leader board.

“I’m pretty lucky because I started early in the morning,” Shin said, thinking she beat the wind, which didn’t become a major factor.

Shin fell off the radar when she left the LPGA Tour following the 2013 season, but she won the Women’s British Open in 2008 and 2012 and piled up 11 wins on the circuit. Now she plays mostly in Japan.

“I very enjoy because less traveling and more three-day tournaments,” Shin said in halting English. “Physically, I feel much better.”

This Women’s PGA is a four-round test. Shin hasn’t been there in a while. Kang and Choi have been but haven’t won a pro major. Henderson is lurking. Yang and Kim are within striking distance if all goes perfectly.

How often does that happen?

O, Canada

Brooke Henderson, who calls Ontario home and sports sponsorships from Canadian Pacific and the Royal Bank of Canada on her shirts, received plenty of encouragement from the gallery on Saturday. That it was Canada Day, and the country’s 150th birthday, helped.

“Happy Canada Days a little bit over the course, which is good,” Henderson said. “I’m still in fourth place, which is great. Any time you can see your name that close to the top is a really good feeling. And it’s disappointing. I would really have liked to have 17 and 18 (a bogey and a par) back. They were very similar putts, and I just hit it through the break both times.”

If there was no tournament this week, Henderson would do a very Canadian thing.

“I would probably go to my cottage and watch fireworks at night,” she said. “This is a very special day back home.”

Around Olympia

World No. 3 Lydia Ko stubbed her scoring toe, firing a 5-over 76 to fall out of contention. ... Kelly Shon, who wowed everyone with an 8-under 63 on Friday, came back to earth with an even-par 71 on Saturday and stands at 2-under 211. ... The course averaged 71.312 strokes, compared to 73.217 in Round 1 and 72,083 in Round 2, when the full field was on hand. The three day average is 72.383. The final average for the 2003 U.S. Open was 72.38. ... Attendance continues to be spotty. There was a crowd of about 300 following Michelle Wie and Ko around on the front nine, and that was the largest gaggle with any group. Add in those in the KPMG suites and fans that parked themselves under a tree by a green for a while, along with various wanderers, and there might have been 6,000 on the grounds over the course of the day. The ticket price of $30 for the final round is a bargain for big-time golf, let alone a major championship.

Tim Cronin


Shon’s 63 sets mark at Olympia; Kang, Kim co-leaders through 36  

Writing from Olympia Fields, Illinois

Friday, June 30, 2017

In the United States Open fourteen years ago, Olympia Fields Country Club members blanched when the best players in the world pockmarked their famed North Course with a fusillade of eagles and birdies highlighted by Vijay Singh’s second-round 63.

The mortification of the old-timers quadrupled when columnists from around the country such as Woody Paige mocked the course’s toughness.

Paige isn’t here this week, and some of the old-timers are no longer with us, but the best players in the world – female division – are on the premises, and the scoreboard is once again neon red.

That’s crystal clear after 36 holes of the 63rd KMPG Women’s PGA Championship, where 7-under 135 leads, where 40 players are under par, and where Kelly Shon, whose first-round 77 put her in danger of missing the cut, rebounded with a women’s course record 8-under-par 63 on Friday morning.

The 63, a 14-stroke improvement, not only matched Singh and Rickie Fowler, who recorded his 63 in the first round of the 2007 Fighting Illini Invitational, but is the lowest score in relation to par in Olympia North history. Singh and Fowler were playing against a par of 70.

Oh, and Shon is five strokes back of leaders Danielle Kang and Sei Young Kim going into the weekend.

Kang and Kim each added 5-under 66s to opening 69s and stand at 7-under 135 at the halfway point. First round leader Amy Yang, who completed her 6-under 65 with a birdie on the 18th hole on Friday morning, scored even-par 71 in the second round and is tied for third at 6-under 136 with Chella Choi, Brittany Lincicome and Jodi Ewart Shadoff, the latter two scoring 66s on a North Course softened by an overnight rain and an afternoon cloudburst.

World No. 1 So Yeon Ryu is in a gaggle at 5-under 137, and joined by, among others, defending champion Brooke Henderson, who, buoyed by an eagle at the par-5 18th, added a 69 to Thursday’s 68, and Moriya Jutanugarn, who has toured the North in 68-69.

For Kang, her bogey-free excursions across Olympia’s leafy acreage are going according to plan. A plan concocted in consultation with her brother Alex, a player who played the course in the Fighting Illini Invitational while at San Diego State, firing rounds of 78-76.

“I played Tuesday and walked off the golf course not having a plan,” Kang said. “I kind of was super-overwhelmed and I didn’t know what to do.”

A phone call to Alex and about 10 texted photos later, she had a plan for several previously-baffling holes, and the course in general.

“No matter what, you have to give yourself an opportunity to putt,” Kang said. “I can’t let the greens get the best of me this week. Each shot matters.”

She proved that to herself on the 18th green, when a 30-foot uphill eagle putt came up three feet short.

“I didn’t think about speed, and look, I ended up three feet short,” Kang said. “But it’s not an easy three-footer. It breaks outside the cup. It challenges you.”

She made it for the 66, and while Kim matched her, nobody finished better, though Choi got to 8-under before bogeys on two of her last three holes.

Kim was also bogey-free on Friday, beating the thunderstorm to the clubhouse with her 66, a distinct improvement on an opening 69 that included a double-bogey and two bogeys in four holes late in that round.

“I realized my grip was a little loose,” Kim said of how she held the club. “Just a little adjustment, stronger than before. That was key.”

Seven threes and a deuce on her card unlocked the 66. But she said being in contention won’t alter her outlook.

“I have to focus on what I have to do,” Kim said. “I couldn’t focus on my position, don’t think about it or anything. Don’t think of future. Don’t think of other players scores. Yeah.”

Shon, playing unconscious golf, outdid them all. She had four holes left when the horn blew on Thursday night, and 8-over for those 14 holes. She was clearly on track to miss the cut. But she parred her first three holes of the resumed round on Friday morning, and then dropped a 90-foot putt for an eagle 3 at the last.

“Pure luck,” Shon said. “Dead center at perfect pace.”

A harbinger, to be sure.

“My caddie said to me. ‘I had a feeling you were going to make it. I had a feeling if you made it, you were going to make the cut.”

Shortly after, Shon went back out on the tournament’s back nine and scored 4-under 31, eagling the par-5 18th again, this time with a putt breaking right to left and toppled in. Four more birdies on the front side equaled 32 for a 63, which matched the best score in LPGA/Women’s PGA Championship history. Patty Sheehan and Meg Mallon had scored 63 in the past, but not on courses the caliber of Olympia North.

“I’m really honored by joining those names,” Shon said. “I wish I had known I could have beaten them all by one shot – just kidding!”

Shon is 10-under over her last 19 holes. If she keeps up that pace, she could lap the field by Sunday night – unless Kang and Kim continue to bash the course.

Thanks for coming

The cut fell at 2-over 144 and included 74 players. Among those missing the fun on the weekend: World No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn – who bogeyed her last hole to fall to 3-over 145 – Na Yeon Choi, Yani Tseng, Morgan Pressel, Mo Martin, Laura Davies, Cristie Kerr, Shanshan Feng, Hyo Joo Kim and Karrie Webb, major champions all.

Around Olympia

Among the dark horses is Ally McDonald, who scored back-to-back eagles on Nos. 18 and 1 Friday morning, shot 1-under 70 and stands in a mob at 3-under with Lexi Thompson and Gerina Piller, among others. Thompson posted a 69, Piller a nifty 66. ... There was one stoppage for a rogue thunderstorm from 2:09 to 2:43 p.m. ... Galleries didn’t pick up on Friday, which is a surprise and contrary to Chicago tradition. As with Thursday, over the entire day about 5,000 fans appeared to be at Olympia. The biggest galleries were only a few hundred, following the groups featuring notables including Michelle Wie and Lydia Ko. For all the talent, there’s not a lot of instant name recognition for LPGA players, largely because more coverage in print media and Golf Channel – the only electronic entity to pay attention to the ladies – is dedicated to the PGA Tour. Essentially, the people not on hand don’t know what they’re missing. ... Of Chicago’s traditional print media outlets, only the Chicago Tribune was on hand on Friday. No Sun-Times, no Daily Southtown – the home-area paper, so to speak, no Daily Herald.

Tim Cronin