Pressel shoots 70 for 2-shot lead
PITTSFORD, New York (AP)
Morgan Pressel withstood rain and a muddy course to shoot a 2-under 70 on Saturday and take the lead after two rounds of the LPGA Championship.
At 6-under 138, Pressel had a two-shot lead over top-ranked Inbee Park and Chella Choi. Park shot 68, while Choi, the first-round leader, struggled with a 73.
The final two rounds will be squeezed into a 36-hole marathon on Sunday at Locust Hill Country Club to determine the winner of the tour's second major. The change in schedule came after nearly five inches (13 centimeters) of rain fell on Thursday, forcing officials to postpone the first round.
''I run a lot,'' Pressel said, laughing. ''I'm in plenty good of enough shape to get through 36 holes tomorrow.''
Pressel hasn't won since claiming the Kapalua Classic in 2008. The American is attempting to end a string of eight straight majors won by Asian-born players. A year earlier, at the age of 18, she won the Kraft Nabisco to become the youngest LPGA player to win a major.
''It was a long time ago. I've been through a lot since then,'' Pressel said. ''A lot has happened in golf and life. But that being said, I've done it before. So I just need to go out there and remember that I can do it, and just get it done.''
Jiyai Shin, Amy Yang and Sarah Jane Smith were tied for fourth at 3 under. And there were seven more players at 1 under or better after two rounds, which should make for a long and topsy-turvy final day.
''It's going to be very tough physically, especially walking on these wet fairways,'' Park said. ''Just try not to lose my focus.''
Last year, Pressel struggled in dealing with injuries to her thumb and left wrist. This year, she has missed three of the past four cuts of tournaments entered. Her best finish of the season is a tie for 10th at in Singapore in March.
Starting on No. 9 Saturday, Pressel birdied three of her first six holes to get to 7 under, before faltering. She bogeyed Nos. 16 and 18. Pressel nearly gave up another stroke on the short par-4 second, but saved par by sinking a 10-foot putt.
Pressel then padded her lead with a 4-foot birdie putt on the par-5 eighth.
''The tournament is only halfway finished, but I feel good about my approach to playing,'' Pressel said. ''It'll be a long day, but I need to stay mentally focused.''
Park joined Michelle Wie in shooting the second-round's lowest score in carding five birdies and a bogey-5 on No. 14.
With three wins already this season, including a major, the 25-year-old is carrying plenty of confidence into Sunday.
''I would be less nervous than at the Kraft,'' she said. ''That kind of experience really helps going into major championships like this where you get the situation and you've experienced it before. You feel a lot more comfortable.''
Wie put herself back in the hunt. She was at even par after a 68 to match not only her best round of the season, but best in six appearances at Locust Hill.
''I'm starting to understand this golf course a little more every year,'' said Wie, who missed the cut last year at Locust Hill with a two-round total of 12-over 156.
''I've tried a lot of different things on this golf course over the past couple of years. And in some conditions, if you're feeling great, (hitting driver) does work. But sometimes it will nip you in the butt if you get a little greedy here.''
At the very least, Wie is hoping she's found a groove while attempting to build off last week, when she had a season-best ninth-place tie at the ShopRite LPGA Classic.
''Shooting 68 today, really gives me the confidence,'' she said.