Stacy Lewis heads into the weekend at the HSBC Women’s Champions with a two-stroke lead – the second week in a row she’s led a tournament after 36 holes.
At the LPGA Thailand last week, her putting failed her in the third round and she shot a 76 and eventually tied for third place.
She doesn’t want to make the same mistake at Sentosa Golf Club.
Lewis set up her weekend by holing six birdies in a 6-under 66 in the second round on Friday. The reigning U.S. LPGA Tour player of the year was at 11-under 133 overall.
”Last week, my putter just went sideways,” she said. ”I don’t know what happened. But I feel a lot more comfortable with my putter this week, which I’m happy about.
”You can’t force things, and last week I definitely was trying to force some putts and hit them too hard and through breaks, so it’s really for me just staying patient tomorrow.”
Lewis led a pack of six players tied for second: Ariya Jutanugarn (66), Na Yeon Choi (66), Chella Choi (67), Paula Creamer (67), Sun Young Yoon (68) and overnight leader Azahara Munoz (70).
Top-ranked Yani Tseng stumbled with a double bogey on the par-5 4th hole and shot 73. She was in a tie for 21st at 3 under.
Lewis has started the new season with the same form that saw her win four titles last year and climb to fourth in the world rankings.
The American matched her career-best round of 63 last week in Thailand, and has kept sinking long birdie putts in Singapore, including a 25-foot putt up a slight incline on the first hole on Friday.
”I think I kind of realized, especially on this course (but) I did it last week, too, I was just trying too hard and trying to make putts and trying to hit good shots,” she said. ”You know you kind of grip the club a little tighter, you hold the putter a little tighter and things just don’t go your way.
”You just need to not try so hard and just have fun out there and relax.”
Ariya is also hoping to rebound from a disappointing tournament last week. The 17-year-old Thai has shown no lasting effects from her final-round collapse in Thailand where she blew a two-stroke lead on the 18th hole and lost the title to Inbee Park. She was in tears after the defeat.
The former top-ranked amateur made six birdies in a bogey-free 66, matching Lewis and Na Yeon Choi for best round of the day.
”Today my irons helped me a lot,” she said. ”I still miss some short putts but my irons, I hit so close to the pin today.”
Choi, the U.S. Women’s Open champion, briefly surged into the lead by making three birdies at the start of the back nine before bogeying the 15th.
The South Korean, ranked second, has inched closer to Tseng’s No. 1 spot since last season, but she’s trying to keep this out of her mind.
”I don’t know (for) what reason, but I feel very happy to play golf right now and I feel like I don’t really have the pressure,” she said. ”Just like beginning of the season, I can just go out there, play, have fun and I talk a lot with the players.”
Given her recent form, Lewis is also eyeing the No. 1 spot this year.
”Middle of last year, that was one of my goals was to track down Yani,” she said. ”I didn’t play well last weekend, but I still finished third and that helps me in that move to No. 1.”
Tseng, who hasn’t captured a trophy in nearly a year, managed just one birdie on Friday.
Michelle Wie made four bogeys on her first five holes and six overall to shoot 75, and lie at 2 over.
Defending champion Angela Stanford also struggled for the second straight day, matching her first-round 76 to sit at 8 over. She’s in a tie for 59th in the 61-player field.