MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — Se Ri Pak shot a 6-under 66 on Friday to take a one-stroke lead over Brittany Lincicome and Wendy Ward in the Bell Micro LPGA Classic.
Pak, who opened on the 10th tee, had five birdies in a six-hole stretch on her final nine holes to top the second-round leaderboard at 9 under on The Crossings course at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail’s Magnolia Grove complex.
Pak won events on the course in 2001 and 2002.
“Of course I have such a great memory about it,” Pak said. “I play really well and the scores are really low, too. That helps a lot.
“I know so many holes, where to miss, how to play, how to make the shot. That actually helps a lot, especially during this week.”
Many of the players wore purple ribbons and wristbands with “EB” and a heart honoring Erica Blasberg, a 25-year-old tour player who was found dead in suburban Las Vegas on Sunday. The flag was at half-staff.
Police have not said if they suspect foul play and the coroner said a ruling on a cause of death was pending blood and tissue tests that could take four to six weeks to complete.
Ward had the low round with a 65, six strokes better than her opener.
Lincicome got off to a fast start with birdies on six of her opening seven holes, but had a finishing bogey for a 66.
First-round leader Azahara Munoz was in a group of four players three strokes back after a double bogey on No. 17 and a 73.
The 22-year-old former Spanish amateur star and 2008 NCAA individual champion for Arizona State had navigated the course unscathed in scoring a bogey-free 65 to open.
The Hall of Famer Pak is pushing $11 million in career earnings but hasn’t finished better than 15th in her first five events of 2010 or won since the 2007 Owens Corning Classic. She withdrew from the Tres Marias Championship in Mexico two weeks ago after an opening 84. She said putting has been a problem since last fall.
“I really have been struggling on the green, but golf is a patient game so I’m kind of patient myself and keep working exactly the same thing and change a little bit of routine,” Pak said. “Finally, I make some putts here and there and then (that) gets me my feel back and then I have a lot of confidence back. And then of course I have a great chance.”
Ward, a 15-year veteran who turned 37 last week, took a more dramatic step after a slow start in 2010. She turned to Lori Brock, her coach of about 10 years ago to jump-start her game. They reunited before the tournament in Mexico.
“It’s simple again,” said Ward, who birdied the final two holes. “It’s fun and it’s simple and that’s the way this game needs to be.”
Lincicome, a long driver nicknamed “Bam Bam,” rapidly climbed the leaderboard with her fast start.
“I did really good on that nine (Thursday), so there’s definitely something about that nine that I like,” said Lincicome, who was the top LPGA Tour player in a home run derby put on by the sponsor Thursday evening. “I made every putt that I looked at. I think I had about 10-footers every hole and I just rolled them in like they’re nothing. Obviously that helps.”
Lincicome lost a share of the lead with a finishing bogey after her approach shot from the fringe of the trees left of the fairway overshot the green. Then she two-putted from about 25 feet.
“I was driving it really well until that last hole,” Lincicome said. “I’m not really sure where that came from. I was a little nervous knowing I was near the top. I don’t know what happened but that was the worst drive of the day.”
Jiyai Shin, who took over the world No. 1 for the retired Lorena Ochoa, was five strokes behind Pak after her second straight 70. Japanese star Ai Miyazato, coming off her third win in the first five events of the season, was another shot back after a 71.
Michelle Wie made the cut by a stroke, following her opening 72 with a 73.