Kemp and Kirk lead Aussie charge at Evian Championship
SYDNEYSIDER Sarah Kemp has made her first major cut of 2019 at the year's penultimate major, the Evian Championship Evian-les-Bains, France.
Kemp made the only eagle of the week on a par-four by holing out from the fairway on 17 on Saturday (AEST), before putting an exclamation mark on her second round two-under 69 with a birdie at the par-five last.
Kemp is joined at one-under for the tournament by Katherine Kirk, the duo leading the Australian charge heading into the weekend of the year's penultimate major.
They sit nine back of outright leader Mi Hyang Lee, but with some wild weather forecast for the next 48 hours some solid golf could close that gap quickly.
Lee's fellow Koreans Hyo Joo Kim, Inbee Park and world No.1 Sung Hyun Park are one stroke back at nine-under.
"I was a couple inside the cut line and thought I just needed one more, maybe on 18 with the tee up a bit today," Kemp said.
"On 17, I just hit it to the corner and hit a 50-degree wedge up there.
"I couldn't see the pin, and I didnt know it went in until the people up there started going crazy.
"Then on 18, a five-wood isn't easy from that fairway with that lie, the ball below your feet, but I said ''let's do it'."
Kemp's unbelievable fortnight in Barwon Heads and Adelaide in February earned her starts in all four majors of the year so far - and a ticket to next week's AIG Women's British Open.
"I've been close, I played pretty well in the teams event last week with my partner Janet," Kemp said.
"I just need more of the same stuff over the weekend, I'm hitting the ball well. Lots of fairways, lots of greens. Maybe make a few more putts would be nice."
Countrywoman Kirk's road to the weekend has been moderately more routine, the Queenslander backing up her opening round 70 with an even-par 71 on day two.
Eight pars and a beautiful up-and-down from a bunker for birdie on the par-five 15th was exactly what the doctor ordered on the way back to the clubhouse
"I thought I actually played a little bit better today, I just didnt make any putts," Kirk said.
"Just one of those days so I'm happy where I'm at. The bogeys that I made were basically from missing the fairways,
"It wasn't easy out there, I don't think you'll see crazy low scores out there today."
Fellow Australian Su Oh carded a two-under-69 second round to be one-over for the tournament, where she sits one shot ahead of reigning Women's PGA champion Hannah Green, who signed for a second straight one-over 72.
Australian world No.4 Minjee Lee missed the cut, finishing at four-over.
Green's back nine began with a par and ended with one too.
But it's what happened in between that tells the story of how the 23-year-old reigning Women's PGA champion overcame a weather delay, some loose shots and a different kind of pressure to make the Evian Championship cut.
"I was just doing my scorecard then, I looked at all the squares and the circles and was like 'Wow, that was pretty interesting from 11 onwards!'" Green said after signing for a second straight one-over 72.
A birdie at the par-four 11th took Green to one-over-par for the tournament, a number that at that point looked like enough to ensure Green would make the cut.
But then the reigning Women's PGA champion collapsed out of nowhere, making bogey on 12 after a bad lie just off the fairway, before back-to-back three-putts at 13 and 14.
Suddenly, Green had slumped to four-over for the week with a battle on her hands.
From the par-five 15th fairway, Green lasered a three-wood over the right-hand trap, her ball turning hard left down the slope and trickling to no more than four feet.
"I asked my caddie what line to hit it on and I was like 10 feet further right than that," Green said.
"I heard a few claps and was walking up there and I saw one right near the pin.
"I knew Jin Young's went left and 'six' was right so I realised it was mine. Then I was really surprised how few claps there was!"
As though unsatisfied with the modest response from the Evian galleries, Green did her best to draw some life out of them on the very next tee.
Green's short iron into the par-three 16th split the green and curled barely 60cm behind the back of the cup.
She had no more than three feet for birdie when air horns rang out across Evian Resort, signalling a postponement of play for lightning.
She wasn't allowed to practice during the delay but when play resumed, Green proved that would have been unnecessary.
The West Australian converted for birdie to climb back to one-over for the tournament, but the drama didn't stop there.
Green's three-wood off the tee drifted left into a fairway bunker, her second coming up 25m short.
Ten feet for par proved to be too far, the world No.25 making bogey and needing par at the last.
Green gave herself a birdie putt from the back fringe to the back-right pin and while it didn't drop, she'd done enough to make the cut in her first event after a month off tour.
"I really wanted to make the cut. Especially in my first tournament back and playing with two major champs, there certainly was pressure," Green said.
"I'm just really happy that I parred the last. I felt like today, I didnt hole that many putts, so that'll be key for me the next two days... hopefully."
The rain finally arrived as Green walked out of the scorer's hut, those on course now forced to deal with the worst conditions of the week so far on their way back to the clubhouse.