Madelene Sagstrom (Enkoping, Sweden) carded a 5-under 67 on Friday to move to 11-under, 133, seven shots in front of second place heading into the weekend at the Self Regional Healthcare Foundation Women’s Health Classic. Sagstrom has nine birdies, two eagles and just two bogeys through 36-holes. Wichanee Meechai (Thailand) is in second place at 4-under, 140 while Katie Kempter (Albuquerque, N.M.) is in third at 3-under, 141.

The cut was made at 7-over, 151, and exactly 60 players will tee it up on Saturday. The 24-player Legends Tour field will vie for a separate purse on Sunday.

Sagstrom once again dazzled on Friday, but actually started with a bogey. She settled in with two pars, before making birdies on four and six. On the back nine, she made birdies on 13, 15 and 18. Sagstrom was in the rough just left of the fairway playing two on the par-5 18th. She hit a majestic high-drawing hybrid to about eight feet and then drained eagle to stretch her lead.

“I was impressed with how close I got it,” said Sagstrom. “I was choosing between a 5-wood and a hybrid, but I decided to hit a draw with my hybrid and it turned out well. I just committed to it and hit it. I saw it cleared the bunker so I knew it was going to be up there.”

Sagstrom started the tournament with an eagle on Thursday and she ended her second round with an eagle.

“It is always fun to make eagle, I had a pretty easy putt on 18 straight uphill,” explained Sagstrom. “It was just a nice way to end today.”

One of Sagstrom’s playing partners the last two days was 3-time Symetra Tour winner Jean Reynolds, who has also made 26 career LPGA Tour starts. She offered high praise for the rookie.

“I was telling my housing, she will be on Solheim Cup next year and I guarantee she will be top 5 or 10 in the world,” said Reynolds. “It was a pleasure to play with her and she is just awesome.”

Sagstrom will aim for her second win and her fifth consecutive top five finish to start the year, but she is
staying true to what got her to this point.

“We’re just sticking to every single shot,” said Sagstrom. “We don’t try to think in advance or what happened in the past, we just try to think about what we have in the now. For me, it is all about being committed and playing as free as I can.”

The free spirit, who is always smiling and laughing with her caddie Josh, said that she is really enjoying
herself this week.

“When we walked up to 13, there were a few boats there and the music was playing and I was like this is so much fun,” said Sagstrom. “I’m sure there will be a lot more people throughout the weekend, but it is just nice to feel the support.”

Sagstrom leads the Volvik Race for the Card money list with $56,214. A win would bump her total to $93,714, which would put her just $864 short of the single-season earnings record of $94,578 set by Cindy LaCrosse in 2010.

Sagstrom said she doesn’t look at the money list a lot or think about a “Battlefield Promotion” to the LPGA. She is more focused on improving as a player.

Sagstrom, Meechai and Kempter will tee at 10:59 a.m. on Saturday.

MEECHAI CARDS 67 TO MOVE INTO CONTENTION: Wichanee Meechai had a sliding left-right putt for eagle on the 18th hole and drilled it. She fist pumped and her caddie jumped in the air in celebration. The eagle put an exclamation point on a 67.

“The tee on 18 is moved from the back to the front and I had about 200 yards to the pin and I hit a 3-wood solid,” explained Meechai. “The putt was really hard, if it didn’t go in, it would have rolled a full club past the hole, but it went in so thank god.”

Meechai made one birdie and seven pars over her first eight holes. She closed with three birdies, an eagle and just one bogey over her final 11 holes.

“It’s important every tournament for me to play well,” said the 23-year-old, who finished T22 at 2015 LPGA Qualifying Tournament, narrowly missing full LPGA Tour status. “I hope I can be the winner.”

Meechai carded a 1-over 73 on Thursday and was in a tie for 17th entering the day.

“Yesterday, it was so windy and my putter was good, but not that good,” said Meechai, who attempted two fewer putts on Friday. “It was an easier day today, I made some nice approach shots and some putts.”

Meechai, who goes by Jan, turned professional at 16-years-old. She played all over Asia, mostly in Thailand and China. Last year, she played in China and Taiwan and played well enough to have the confidence to test the waters in the Unted States.

“I got conditional status at Q-School, but made the decision to play Symetra Tour to try and get my full card,” explained Meechai. “I did well in China and it is my goal to play on the LPGA so I wanted to try.”

KEMPTER NOT WORRIED ABOUT CHASING SAGSTROM: Katie Kempter posted a 2-under 70 on Friday to move into third at 3-under. Although eight shots off the lead, Kempter is pleased with her position.

“If it is her week and she laps the field, there is nothing we can do,” said Kempter. “I’m just going to stay focused and stay in the now like I have done through 36-holes.”

Kempter, who won the 2015 Volvik Championship, made back-to-back birdies on holes 16 and 17 and then ended with a par. On 17, she hit a choke down eight iron to a foot.

“I have been really patient,” said Kempter. “My dad is caddying and my mom and sister are here watching so this is just a great week for me to be able to spend time with family and play good golf.”

 

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