GOLD COAST, Australia (AP) — American Amanda Blumenherst shot a 3-under 69 to maintain a share of the lead with Lim Ji-na of South Korea after two rounds of the ANZ Australian Ladies Masters.
First-round leader Blumenherst and Lim (66) had a two-round total of 9-under 135 after Friday’s second round.
Australia trio Katherine Hull (70), six-time former champion Karrie Webb (69) and Tamie Durdin (68) were tied for third, two strokes back, along with South Koreans Ryu So-yeon (67) and Seo Hee-kyung (68).
Blumenherst, Hull, Webb and Durdin played most of their afternoon rounds in steady rain at Royal Pines. Up to eight inches of rain fell on the course earlier in the week.
When she finished her round, Blumenherst was shown on the tournament’s computer leaderboard as trailing Lim by a stroke. But her score on the par-4 second hole was incorrectly recorded as a bogey instead of a par four.
Thursday was the first time the former amateur star from Duke University had led a pro tournament after the first round, and she’ll tee off again Saturday in the last group.
“I was very proud of myself,” Blumenherst said. “I was nervous of course, but I handled it very well, I played my game, and I’m putting really well.”
“It was really tough, especially after coming around the turn when it really started raining. I tried to think of it as part of my advantage, that everyone in my section was facing it too.”
Blumenherst’s group was put on the clock with two holes left, caused mostly by a ruling needed by another player in the threesome early in the round. As a result, they had fallen two holes behind the group in front.
“Being on the clock is tough,” Blumenherst said. “Even though I don’t feel like I’m going overtime, you still subconsciously think that you could be penalized.”
Lim, who won her first Korean tour event in 2007 in her rookie season, said the course conditions were better earlier Friday before the rain hit.
“My short game was very good and putting as well,” said Lim, whose best finish in three previous trips to Royal Pines was 30th two years ago.
Lim spent most of her time in her post-round interview Friday talking about Jack Nicklaus.
A week after she won her second South Korean ladies tour event in September, she received a letter of congratulations from Nicklaus that forced her to race to her Korean-English dictionary and translate word by word.
“I was very surprised,” Lim said through an interpreter. “He said he hopes to see me in the U.S. very soon.”
Lim met Nicklaus two years ago while he was on a business trip to South Korea, and has an endorsement contract with Jack Nicklaus clothing.
She not only wears the Golden Bear logo, but has gone one better, asking the manufacturer to emblazon “I love Jack” – using the heart symbol instead of the word – on her clothing.
“I envied him before, but I love him after I met him,” the 22-year-old Lim giggled. “And they pay me a lot of money.”
Lim, who has Nicklaus’ letter framed on her bedroom wall, birdied three of the four par-5 holes and two par-3s in a bogey-free round.
Lim will attempt to qualify for the LPGA Tour next year after playing another full season on the Korean tour, where she finished eighth on the money list in 2009. She’ll also play next week at the Australian Women’s Open in Melbourne.