Suzann Pettersen shot a 4-under 68 on Saturday to extend her lead to five strokes after the second round of the LPGA KEB HanaBank Championship.
The Norwegian did not reach the level of her opening round when she carded a course-record 63 but still had a strong lead going into the final day of the three-round event at the Sky72 Ocean Course at Incheon.
Two birdies on the final two holes capped a strong performance over the first two days for the No. 9-ranked player.
”It just felt like I got out there this morning and I didn’t really expect it to be as breezy as it was,” said Pettersen. ”Not that it was extremely windy, but it was a little different yesterday … and it almost took me nine holes to kind of adjust to the conditions.
”On the back nine, very happy the way I finished. I was standing on 15 and said to myself, it would be nice to finish with two or three birdies, and I think that’s what I did. Good way to finish the day.”
South Korea’s Ryu So-yeon had a 70 and is alone in second place, a stroke ahead of compatriot Se Ri Pak, who had the day’s best round with a 67, Germany’s Sandra Gal and top-ranked Yani Tseng.
Ryu, the 2011 US Open champion, is leading the race to be the tour’s Rookie of the Year and is having to adjust to her star status in her homeland.
”If the Hana Bank winner is Korean, they will love it, because this is in Korea,” Ryu said. ”But sometimes it really makes it tough and crazy, but I want to enjoy this tough situation because I am a professional. I’m so happy to be playing in front of the Korean fans, and I want to really say thanks to the Korean fans.
”The final round is always tough. I think though I am ready to play tomorrow.”
Tseng, the defending champion, closed strongly on the opening day, a sign that her recent slump may be coming to an end. Two birdies over the first four holes Saturday put the Taiwanese star just two shots off the lead before bogies at the sixth, eighth and ninth holes dropped her back into the pack.
Three birdies on the back nine left her six shots off the pace and with an outside chance of back-to-back titles.
”I’m very looking forward to tomorrow and just want to relax and have the same strategy as today,” said Tseng.
One shot back and seven behind Pettersen are Lexi Thompson of the United States, Scotland’s Catriona Matthew, Azahara Munoz of Spain and local player Kim Ha-neul.
Michelle Wie, playing on a sponsor exemption, is 2 over after two rounds and tied for 40th place with No. 2-ranked Stacy Lewis.