ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) — South Korean star Jiyai Shin, seeking her fifth win in 11 months, shot a 4-under 68 on Friday to vault into a three-stroke lead at the storm-plagued Wegmans LPGA.
“I really am happy with my putter – it’s really good,” the 21-year-old Shin said after moving to 11-under 133, a record low at the demanding Locust Hill course in suburban Rochester. “I would like to keep this feeling through tomorrow and the final round.”
Play was interrupted by thunderstorms for nearly five hours, then called off at 8:37 p.m. as darkness fell. In all, 71 players will complete their second round Saturday morning, including Tiger Woods’ niece, Cheyenne, who was battling to make the cut.
Morgan Pressel was in second place at 8 under through 13 holes. That was one better than Kristy McPherson on the same hole, Michelle Wie through 10 holes and Stacy Lewis through 14 holes. First-round leader Sandra Gal of Germany, blaming fatigue for a string of wayward tee shots on the back nine, shot a 1-over 73 to drop to 7 under.
Last year, Shin became the first non-LPGA member to win three events. She reeled in the Women’s British Open last August, then followed with late-season wins in the Mizuno Classic and ADT Championship. In March, she captured the HSBC Women’s Champions in Singapore for her first victory as a tour member.
Her steadfast accuracy off the tee box and the fairways got her within 3 feet for early birdies on Nos. 3 and 4. Her only bogey came when she caught a greenside bunker at No. 10. As Gal faltered, she took the lead with an 8-foot birdie putt on No. 14 and widened the gap atop the leaderboard when she birdied from 6 feet at the par-5 17th.
On Tuesday afternoon, Shin spent nearly five hours practicing her putting at Locust Hill, a traditional, tree-lined course with compact, undulating greens. “So it was easy play with my putter,” she said with a shy smile.
Gal, 24, who grew up near Cologne, was a two-time all-American in her three seasons at the University of Florida and the top-ranked European amateur in 2007. In her second year on tour, her best finish was a tie for fifth at last month’s LPGA Corning Classic.
“I’m in the hunt for the weekend, so I can’t complain,” she said. “I just accept it as it is and move forward.”
From the 12th hole onward, “I started hitting a few drives crooked, maybe it was tiredness,” she said. After knocking in a 15-foot birdie putt on No. 11, she got caught in heavy rough for bogeys on Nos. 12 and 14 and double-bogeyed No. 16, when she fluffed a chip, landed in a bunker and then missed a 7-foot putt.
Woods, making her first start on the professional tour by way of a sponsor exemption, was at 1 over through 10 holes. If that score holds up, it might just be enough to get the 18-year-old into weekend play.
Defending champion Eun-Hee Ji was in much more difficult straits: 6 over through 13 holes.
The $2 million tournament drew 18 of the season’s top 20 money winners, including No. 1 Cristie Kerr, who was at 1 under through 12 holes. Absent is Lorena Ochoa, the world’s top-ranked player, and Suzann Pettersen, the runner-up here last June.