WALTON-ON-THE-HILL – There’s a golfer hailing from America’s south and with a passion for hunting who is running away with the British Open thanks to precise driving and a red-hot putter.
Ally Ewing is putting up a good impression of Brian Harman as she goes for a first major title this week at Walton Heath.
The No. 39-ranked Ewing rolled in six birdies in her first 11 holes and shot 6-under 66 Friday to establish a five-stroke lead nearing the end of the second round of the Women’s British Open, the final major of the year.
Ewing is delivering a golfing clinic southwest of London three weeks after Harman did the same four hours north of England at Royal Liverpool in the men’s event to win his first major championship.
The similarities don’t end there.
“I think a lot of people, I wouldn’t say they were rooting against him but a lot of people were rooting for other people," Ewing said. “I can kind of attest to that in some sense. But, yeah, certainly happy with where I am through 36 holes.”
And then there’s the hunting — the favored pursuit of Harman and something which proved to be a fascination for the British media, who labeled him “Brian the Butcher.”
Yes, Ewing confirmed, she also likes to hunt.
“For the most part, my family, my husband and I, we do mostly deer hunting, so venison,” she said. “That’s most of what we do.”
The field will look to hunt down Ewing over the weekend, but it will need her to slow up.
At one stage Friday, she held a seven-shot lead and she felt like she was in a trance when making four straight birdies from No. 6.
“I didn’t really even know until I signed my scorecard that I had four birdies in a row,” Ewing said, “so I would probably say that stretch from like No. 6 to No. 11 is kind of a little bit of a blur.”
There was another birdie at No. 16 before a bogey at the last, after her worst swing of the day on the 18th tee, gave her rivals some hope. Ewing was 10 under overall.
The biggest names in women’s golf can’t keep up.
Rose Zhang, the American sensation in her first year of pro golf, shot 71 and was nine off the lead.
Celine Boutier, the Frenchwoman who arrived as the hottest player in the game after back-to-back titles including the Evian Championship, also shot 71 and was two shots further back at 1 over for the tournament.
Former top-ranked player Lydia Ko, currently ranked No. 5, made five bogeys in her opening 10 holes and was looking like missing the cut.
Minami Katsu (69) of South Korea and Andrea Lee (68) of the United States were tied for second place, a stroke ahead of Allison Lee (69), Hyo Joo Kim (70) and Lilia Vu (68) with many of the afternoon starters still out on the course.
AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf