Trish Johnson (Bristol, England) hit her first shot of round two into the water on hole one, but recovered to post an even-par, 72 on Tuesday and maintains a strong grip at the top of the leader board at the inaugural Senior LPGA Championship at French Lick Resort in Indiana. She is 5-under, 139, through 36 holes and is three shots clear of former Indiana University star Michele Redman (Minneapolis, Minnesota).
Johnson and Redman are the only players under-par through 36 holes.
Four-time LPGA Tour winner Lorie Kane, who has made one start on the LPGA this year, is in a tie for third at 1-over, 145 with Liselotte Neumann (Finspang, Sweden) and Carolyn Hill (Saint Petersburg, Florida).
The final group of Johnson, Redman and Kane will tee at 12:47 p.m. on Wednesday. The final-round will begin at 7:35 a.m. and Golf Channel will have coverage from 4:00-6:00 p.m. eastern.
Conditions at the Pete Dye Course at French Lick Resort were much calmer on Tuesday. A total of 11 players finished under-par in round two compared to just two players in round one (Johnson, Redman).
Johnson, 51, made a double-bogey on one, but settled in with a par on two and a birdie on three. She made bogey on four and turned in 38. Like she did in round one, Johnson again started to separate from the field on the back nine. She made a 25-foot birdie putt on 12 and another birdie on 13. Johnson made five pars to end her round. She is 6-under on the back nine with no bogeys through two days.
“I’m not feeling as happy as I was after day one, it was hard work and it wasn’t enjoyable,” said a brutally honest Johnson. “I didn’t play well and I didn’t putt well so I suppose level par is pretty good after I lost my tee shot off the first. It was a battle to say the least.”
Johnson couldn’t find much positive in the round. She said it was just one of those days.
“As well as I hit the ball on the range before I went out, it shouldn’t have been as hard as I made it,” said Johnson. “I turned every positive I had going into the round into a negative. Sometimes the brain works in a mysterious way.”
Johnson took a four-stroke lead into day two and will take a three-stroke lead into the final-round. The trophy ceremony will take place by the pavilion right across from the driving range.
“I want the trophy as badly as everyone else without a shadow of a doubt,” said Johnson, an 18-time winner on the Ladies European Tour and a three-time winner on the LPGA. “Everyone is thinking the same thing and Michele (Redman) had a really good round today, which I fully expected.”
Redman made birdie on 18 after getting on the green in two to finish with a 3-under, 69, the low round of the day.
“It would be extra special to have a big finish,” said Redman, who went to school at Indiana. “I would love to win this. There is no question that I would love to win this because I know a lot of the people here and they’ve been really good to me every time I’ve come.”
NEXT PGA OF AMERICA PRESIDENT TALKS: The golf hasn’t been stellar for Suzy Whaley (Cromwell, Connecticut) – who takes over as PGA of America President in November of 2018 – this week at the Senior LPGA Championship, but the “reunion” with friends and former competitors has been well worth her time.
“To be part of the first LPGA Senior major championship is just incredible,” said Whaley, who posted a 77 on Tuesday. “I played on Tour a long time ago but to see some old friends and have the opportunity to thank people that made the opportunities available for us is great. Without Jane Blalock, without French Lick Resort, without the LPGA, we wouldn’t have the opportunity to compete at this high level.”
Whaley is currently part of a 21-person board as a Vice President at the PGA of America. She will continue in that role until November of 2018 when she becomes the first female president.
“I didn’t intend to be the first, it is something that evolved organically,” explained Whaley. “I joined the PGA of America in 2001 because my husband is a PGA Professional and I wanted to play more competitive golf. It just has evolved into this role in governance and I’ve enjoyed it.”
Whaley’s first Ryder Cup as the PGA of America President will be in Kohler at Whistling Straits in 2020.
“I’m also really excited about the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship too and when I become president it will be at Hazeltine (National Golf Club),” said Whaley. “We’re really excited to partner with KPMG and the LPGA to bring fans the best high level women’s golf event in the country.”
Whaley is very passionate about helping grow women’s golf. Her oldest daughter, Jenn, played
college golf at Quinnipiac and her youngest daughter, Kelly, is a junior on the North Carolina golf team.
“I love to see girls have the opportunity for health, wellness and fun through golf,” said Whaley. “It’s a game for a lifetime and we are getting more girls in the game. LPGA Girls Golf is bringing tons of young girls into the game and PGA Junior League Golf is a great start for 8-13 year olds.”