Admitting that she felt "extremely hurt" from last week's "backstopping" controversy in Thailand, Amy Olson drew on her inner strength to take the lead at the HSBC Women's World Championship yesterday.
The American fired a three-under 69 in the second round at Sentosa Golf Club's New Tanjong Course for a 137 total, two clear of a chasing pack of five.
Last week, she made headlines at the Honda LPGA Thailand event after being accused of committing "backstopping" with world No. 1 Ariya Jutanugarn on the 18th hole in the second round.
Backstopping is the illegal practice of not marking one's ball on the green, so as to provide a backstop for another player. Players may be penalised two strokes as a result.
At the Thailand event, Ariya had pitched to within a foot of the 18th hole. She then looked to playing partner Olson to see if she was okay with her tapping in her putt. Ariya stopped, appearing to be waved off.
Olson then set up for her third shot and hit a low runner towards the hole. Her ball collided with Ariya's and stopped inside of two feet. After both players gave each other fist bumps, Ariya replaced her ball where it originally came to rest. Both players made birdie.
2ND RD (SELECTED)
137 Amy Olson (USA) 68 69
139 Azahara Munoz (Esp) 71 68, Park In-bee (Kor) 70 69, Minjee Lee (Aus) 68 71, Ariya Jutanugarn (Tha) 68 71, Jodi Ewart Shadoff (Eng) 69 70
140 Park Sung-hyun (Kor) 69 71, Moriya Jutanugarn (Tha) 69 71, Carlota Ciganda (Esp) 69 71
142 Lydia Ko (Nzl) 72 70
143 Celine Boutier (Fra) 68 75, Cristie Kerr (USA) 72 71
144 Georgia Hall (Eng) 73 71, Nelly Korda (USA) 74 70
145 Feng Shanshan (Chn) 69 76 146 Liu Yu (Chn) 68 78, Lexi Thompson (USA) 72 74 154 Angela Stanford (USA)
74 80, He Muni (Chn) 76 78
167 Amanda Tan (Sgp) 83 84
3RD RD (SELECTED)
10.11am Lee, Ariya, Shadoff
10.23am Olson, Munoz, Park
10.18am Stanford, Tan
While the LPGA Tour cleared the duo of wrongdoing and said Olson played her shot quickly to help the pace of play, both players came under fire on social media.
On Monday, the 26-year-old took to Instagram to further clear the air and she told The Straits Times yesterday that it was important to do that to have closure.
She said: "We didn't do anything wrong, so there was really no issue. It was good for me to have my voice heard... and move on."
On a happier note, she was pleased to play "smart golf" yesterday with an eagle and two birdies against one bogey.
She said: "I hit the ball really good today. It's just a lot of fun to make some birdies, but it's Friday. I feel like I stayed within myself and kind of played smart golf, so that's really important."
Ariya, 23, was also not bothered by the controversy because "we know we didn't do anything wrong, we did not cheat".
The Thai shot a 71 yesterday and is joint-second on 139 with Spain's Azahara Munoz, South Korea's Park In-bee, Australia's Minjee Lee, and England's Jodi Ewart Shadoff at the no-cut tournament.
Ariya said: "My irons are not that good to have good chances to make birdies. So I have to work on everything."
Park, who is eyeing a hat-trick after wins in 2015 and 2017, also feels she has to step up this weekend.
"My putter is still a little bit rusty, so I'm trying to get the speed and the breaks right," said the 30-year-old former world No. 1, who is playing her first event of the year.
HSBC WOMEN'S WORLD C'SHIP
Day 3: Singtel TV Ch115 & StarHub Ch209, 10am, and Mediacorp okto, 11.30am