WATERLOO, ONT. - Belen Mozo is an impatient soul, a trait she admits is often trying when you are struggling to find your way as a professional golfer.
During the first two rounds at the Manulife Financial LPGA Classic, the 24-year-old Spaniard has learned to put a leash on her emotions and the results, so far, have been encouraging.
The third-year pro enjoyed a second solid outing on the forgiving Grey Silo course Friday, shooting a five-under-par 66 on a muggy, breezy day.
It gave Mozo a two-round total of 131, good for 11 under and a share of second place with four others in the 72-hole event where the winner will pocket $195,000 (U.S.).
Mozo, who is searching for her first LPGA career victory, has some ground to make up if she hopes to take a run at the big money, sitting four shots off the pace established by Catriona Matthew.
The cool Scottish veteran also carded a 64 on Friday, to go with a sizzling 63 on her opening round for a two-round total of 127, 15 under par.
She has a three-shot advantage over American Angela Stanford, who was tied for the lead with Matthew after the opening round but fell back after carding a 67 on Friday.
“First time here, it obviously suits my eye a little bit,” said Matthew, who enjoyed one eagle and five birdies in her round.
Top Canadian through two days is Brooke Henderson, a 15-year-old amateur from Smiths Falls, Ont., who is playing on a sponsor’s exemption. Henderson shot a five-under 66 for a two-round total of 136, nine strokes back.
It has been a tough grind this season for Mozo.
In 12 events this year, she has missed the cut five times, including her previous two events heading into the Classic.
Mozo’s best finish this season was a tie for 28th at the Women’s Australian Open in February, and she admitted the bad results had been dragging her down.
“Overall, it was a very solid day,” she said of her bogey-free round. “My putter is just working this week and I’m very glad, I’m very relaxed. I’m actually in shock that I am so relaxed.”
Mozo said maintaining a positive frame of mind is something she has struggled with at earlier events.
“I mean, I’m a Spaniard girl and I’m very passionate, emotional, so I get very [cheesed off],” she said. “I just get very excited. So I learned through all these years that I have just got to keep it … a little bit low key.”
That will be test over the next two rounds considering the heady company she is keeping, which includes Inbee Park, the South Korean who has proven almost invincible on the LPGA tour this year.
The world No. 1 has earned six victories in 13 starts, including three majors, and remains in the hunt.
Park, who is shooting for her fourth consecutive tour victory and was celebrating her 25th birthday Friday, stumbled a bit but still managed to shoot a credible 67 to sit at 10 under.
On the par-five 18th, Park chipped nicely out of the sand trap at the front of the green that her ball found on the hole for the second consecutive day. She then rammed home a three-foot birdie putt and, as she walked off the green, she was given a Happy Birthday serenade by fans in the grandstand.
Park responded by tossing her golf ball into the seats.
“I never had that many people wish me a happy birthday ever before,” she said. “I’ll remember my 25th birthday forever.”
The 6,330-yard layout at Grey Silo continues to be an easy foe, the greens forgiving thanks to rainy weather earlier in the week.
It is probably the easiest layout she has contested on the year, Mozo said. “You make a lot of birdies here, definitely. But it can still get a little tricky on you. You definitely have to play good.”
Stanford, who suggested it might take a score as low as 20-under par or better to win the title if the green’s remain soft, said it makes it exciting to watch.
“You’re going to have to go low if you want to win,” she said. “Everybody knows that. So I think the more, the merrier. It’s great for the fans, so it will be good for TV.”
“I think it’s great fun,” Matthew said of the birdie-fest. “My last event was the U.S. Open, where it’s a grind and pars are good scores. So this is fun.”
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