MOBILE, Ala. (AP) – Stacy Lewis will gladly take a round with few dramatic putts – or significant blunders – after making an early exit from her last tournament.
Owning the lead at the mid-point is a nice bonus, too.
Lewis birdied five of her final nine holes for a 5-under 67 and a one-stroke lead Friday after the second round of the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic. She had a 9-under 135 total on The Crossings course at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail's Magnolia Grove complex, and marked turnaround a week after going 6 over missing the cut in Hawaii.
“It was really one of those weeks,'' the 2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship said about the missed cut. “I had a lot of stuff going on. Mentally I was kind of not there. I'm a lot more relaxed this week. I just kind of chalked one up to a bad couple of days, and I'm just kind of moving on.''
Karin Sjodin tied the tournament course record with a 64 to finish a stroke back along with Lindsey Wright, So Yeon Ryu and rookie Sydnee Michaels. Ryu shot 67, Michaels 68, and Wright 69.
Sjodin's best finish is a fourth-place tie at the Kraft Nabisco – with Lewis and others – after she opened the final round with a share of the lead. Ryu won the U.S. Women's Open last year for her only LPGA Tour victory.
Lewis, a former University of Arkansas star, had three straight birdies and a two-stroke lead, but missed a 5-foot par putt on the final hole en route to her first bogey of the week.
“It's really just been boring golf,'' said Lewis, who made a more exciting 20-footer on No. 17. “I haven't made a ton of putts. I've just hit a lot of shots close and taken advantage of the par 5s. It's been pretty relaxing.''
Wright, playing in the one of the last groups, parred the last 11 holes after closing within a shot.
“Playing in the second-to-last group, it was a little bit difficult to read putts and make putts,'' said the Australian who won the New Zealand Women's Open in February. “I think I hit it just as good on this (final) nine. It's disappointing not to birdie anything, but I'm in a great spot coming into the weekend.
Her best tour finish is second at the 2009 LPGA Championship. Wright's downhill putt on her closing hole, No. 9, was “probably the fastest putt I had … and it nearly went in.''
“I'm one shot from the lead. No pressure, really,'' she said.
Sjodin rebounded from an opening 72 with the help of a little coaching counsel.
“I had a talk with one of the Swedish coaches that's out here and we suggested attack every swing and every putt, have a positive approach to each shot instead of being scared or kind of chickening out,'' Sjodin said. “I think I went in with maybe a bit of an aggressive attitude, and it seems to have helped.''
Or maybe putting in the dark made for good practice. The lights went out when Sjodin was on the putting green before her early morning round.
“Maybe not seeing the hole is a good thing,'' she joked.
The final holes didn't bedevil only Lewis.
Kraft Nabisco winner Sun Young Yoo's bogey gave her a 69 to fall into a six-player group two strokes back that included Brittany Lincicome (67). Cindy LaCrosse also was a stroke behind Lewis before double bogeying her final hole.
The three players tied with Wright for the first-round lead – Jennifer Rosales (72) , Katie Futcher (77) and Caroline Hedwall (73) – retreated into the pack.
Teen star Lexi Thompson shot a 71 and was 3 under, tied for 35th. Defending champion Maria Hjorth was tied for 56th at 1 under after a 72.
Sandra Gal and Christina Kim were among those failing to make the even-par cut.