Wearn takes advantage of her long drives, leads Valley Forge Invitational

SYMETRA26-i
Laura Wearn lines up her putt on the 15th hole on the second day of the LPGA Symetra Tour’s Valley Forge Invitational at Raven’s Claw Golf Club on Friday.

As one of the longest hitters on the Symetra Tour, Laura Wearn can sometimes overpower a golf course to her advantage.

Wearn capitalized on her driving distance Friday in the  second round of the $100,000 Valley Forge Invitational at Raven’s Claw Golf Club, finishing with a 5-under-par 66 to take a 1-stroke lead going into the final round Saturday.

Wearn, 27, of Charlotte, N.C., the first-round co-leader, stood at 11-under 131 for 36 holes. A birdie at No. 18 enabled her to inch ahead of Charlotte Thomas of England, who tied for the low round of the day with a 65, and posted a 132 total.

The 5-foot-10 Wearn, who entered the event fourth on the tour in driving distance with an average of 291.2 yards, blasted a tee shot of more than 300 yards at the 18th and had just 65 yards in, knocking a 58-degree wedge to within 15 feet and sinking the birdie putt.

She also reached the 519-yard, par-5 10th hole in two, hitting a 5-wood from 225 yards out to 15 feet and holing that putt.

Yes, she likes Raven’s Claw.

“It’s kind of nice because if you hit a long ball, you can go over things,” said Wearn, who played college golf at Furman. “I feel like this course gives me a lot of opportunities to hit the driver so I can have some wedges in. The more wedges I get, the more opportunities I’m going to have at birdies.

“I’m hitting the driver more this week than I typically get to. I’m feeling good with it. I really like the course layout. I’m not sure how many times I hit it, but I hit it a fair amount, so it was exciting to do that.”

Wearn’s back nine of 31 made up for some frustrations on the front, where she had just one birdie and “left some shots out there.”

“I think I did a pretty good job of staying patient,” she said.

A total of 32 players made the cut of even-par 142. That included amateur Isabella DiLisio of Hatfield, who fired an even-par 71 for a 141 total.

Thomas, a two-time Curtis Cup player for Great Britain and Ireland who helped lead Washington to the 2016 NCAA championship, jump-started her round with three birdies on her first four holes. Her longest made putt of her bogey-free day was a 15-footer to save par at the tough par-4 11th.

“I was hitting it kind of close all day, and I think my longest birdie putt was a 6-footer, honestly,” she said. “So it was nice to be able to just have some stress-free birdies out there. It was fun.”

Jennifer Coleman of Rolling Hills Estates, Calif., held third place at 133 after a 66. Louise Ridderstrom was tied for fourth with Desiree Dubreuil, Demi Runas, and Christina Foster at 134. Dubreuil holed out a 9-iron from 130 yards out for an eagle 2 at the 11th.

Rookie Pajaree Anannarukarn of Thailand, who shared the first-round lead with Wearn, had a 72 and was 13th at 137.

Second-round results:

Laura Wearn 65-66—131

Charlotte Thomas 67-65—132

Jenny Coleman 67-66—133

Louise Stahle 69-65–134

Louise Ridderstrom 69-65—134

Desiree Dubreuil 68-66—134

Demi Runas 67-67—134

Christina Foster 67-67—134

Min-G Kim 69-66—135

Linnea Strom 68-67—135

Jenny Haglund 67-68—135

Alejandra Llaneza 67-69—136

Pajaree Anannarukarn 65-72—137

Megan Osland 71-67—138

Esther Lee 71-67—138

Carleigh Silvers 70-68—138

Justine Dreher 69-69—138

Fatima Fernandez Cano 68-70—138

Elizabeth Nagel 68-70—138

Muni He 72-67—139

Ssu-Chia Cheng 71-68–139

Klara Spilkova 70-69—139

Kristy McPherson 71-68—139

Csicsi Rozsa 70-69—139

Regina Plasencia 70-69—139

Stephanie Meadow 69-70—139

Karen Chung 69-70—139

Pavarisa Yoktuan 68-71—139

Shannon Fish 68-71—139

Haley Mills 68-71—139

Carlie Carr 67-72—139

Area players:

Isabella DiLisio 70-71—141

Ginger Howard 73-73—146

Emily Gimpel 78-70—148