JAMES CITY, Va. - Americans Stacy Lewis and Angela Stanford shot the same score (68) in the first two rounds of the Kingsmill Championship. But there was little question which day they played better.
With the sun baking Kingsmill in the morning and swirling winds whipping off the James River, conditions turned hard and fast on Friday, a departure from the opening round when players were permitted to lift, clean, and place on the saturated fairways of the River Course.
After a day of retreat for many, Lewis (68-68 - 136) and Stanford (68-68 - 136) matched the best score of the day and are at 6-under-par, one shot behind Ariya Jutanugarn (64-71 - 135) at the midway point at Kingsmill.
Jutanugarn, a 17-year-old from Thailand who entered on a sponsor's exemption, played in the afternoon when the sun disappeared, the temperatures dipped into the mid-50s, and the day turned raw. After blitzing the River Course with nine birdies on Thursday, Jutanugarn needed 12 holes to make one on Friday. But after playing the first eight holes in 3-over-par and falling two shots behind, she played the rest in 3-under to regain the lead.
Two strokes back are a pair of past Kingsmill champions, American Cristie Kerr (66-71 - 137) and Norway's Suzann Pettersen (68-69 - 137). The 35-year-old Kerr, who won at the River Course in 2005 and 2009, is the only two-time champion in the eight-year history of the event. Pettersen captured the title in 2007.
On a day when only 20 players broke par, a feat which 72 accomplished on Thursday, some took a precipitous fall, including Dewi Claire Schreefel (67-78 - 145), Hee Young Park (68-77 - 145), and Jennifer Rosales (69-77 - 146), who missed the cut by a stroke.
As the course grew teeth, it was not a day for those who lacked tournament experience. The 35-year-old Stanford, who hit 14 greens in regulation and took 29 putts for the second straight round, called it "Groundhog Day." Upon further reflection, she revised her opinion.
"Yesterday I was sad I left some out there," Stanford said. "I felt like I got the most out of today."
Among a group of six players within three strokes of the lead are reigning LPGA champion Shanshan Feng (69-69 - 138), 2011 U.S. Women's Open champion So Yeon Ryu (67-71 - 138), Ai Miyazato (68-70 - 138), and 52-year-old Juli Inkster (69-69 - 138), a seven-time major champion.
Bucking the trend of experienced players emerging at Kingsmill is former South Carolina All-American Katie Burnett (68-70 - 138), who continued her strong play after making the tournament via sponsor's exemption. This is only the second LPGA event for the 23-year-old.
Notes: Among the name players who missed the cut were 2004 Kingsmill champion Se Ri Pak (72-74 - 146), Michelle Wie (73-73 -- 146), Morgan Pressel (74-76 - 150), and Christina Kim (76-80 - 156).