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Saturday, July 11, 2015

But There the Comparison Ends

Yesterday I mentioned that Lydia Ko and Jordan Spieth had similar scores after the first rounds of their respective tournaments.

Today the difference in the events -- and perhaps in their mental states right now -- is plainly evident.

Spieth at the John Deere

Jordan Spieth, languishing in a tie for 101st place after Thursday's round of even par, roared back into contention Friday with a 7-under 64. Now he's T16, just 5 shots off the lead. TPC Deere Run is a place where birdies come to roost in bunches, and Jordan now sits at the same score that he had after 36 holes in both of the last 2 years... which includes the year he won.

Things didn't go so smoothly for Lydia Ko. The Kobra got bitten by a US Open layout that was playing much harder despite the rains that came late Thursday. That's counter-intuitive, I know -- wet US Open courses should be easier to score on than dry courses since tee balls don't necessarily find the rough and the greens receive approach shots better.

But these greens also slowed down considerably, and players simply couldn't believe how hard they had to hit putts. You could even hear Morgan Pressel talking to herself after yet another putt came up short, telling herself that she KNEW she had to hit the ball harder!

Amy Yang

The only players to really capitalize on the situation were Amy Yang (pictured above), who sits at -7, and Stacy Lewis, T2 at -4. Yes, there are certainly other players in the mix, but these two are the only ones to shoot in the 60s on BOTH days -- 67-66 for Yang, 69-67 for Lewis. The course isn't going to get any easier this weekend; the question is whether conditions will allow the other players to make up ground or do the conditions favor Yang and Lewis going forward.

As for Lydia Ko, she is now +2 (T32) and apparently struggling with her game. FOX reported a somewhat confused Lydia in the hours before the second round, having changed her routine considerably and perhaps throwing her rhythm off for the day. At any rate, she's got her work cut out for her, with so many players ahead of her.

It will be interesting to see how Jordan performs next week when their positions are reversed and he faces major conditions. But this is Lydia's third major of the year, and her record for the first two isn't so good -- T51 at the Inspiration and a missed cut at the Women's PGA. Jordan's played a bit better in the Masters and US Open.

There was some talk on the FOX broadcast that leads me to believe Lydia is beginning to feel the pressure to win a major. Apparently she made a remark something along the lines that if she did win one, at least the constant questions would stop. I imagine it's harder to be a prodigy than most of us realize.

Since Jordan is now past that problem, perhaps these two should meet and have a chat. After all, Annika's friendship with Tiger certainly didn't hurt her game any!

In the meantime, perhaps the earlier tee time will lessen some of the tension on Lydia and just let her freewheel it a little today. The LPGA broadcast is on the regular FOX stations -- not FOXSports1 -- today at 2:30pm ET. Jordan, of course, will be on GC early and then on NBC. [CORRECTION: That should be CBS -- I got the Scottish Open coverage mixed up with the John Deere coverage.]

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