US Women’s Open champion Ryu So-yeon shot a four-under 69 yesterday to take a one-stroke lead over fellow South Korean Seo Hee-kyung after the second round of the LPGA Tour’s season-opening Women’s Australian Open.
Ryu, a playoff winner over Seo in July at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado, had a six-under 140 total on Royal Melbourne’s composite course, the venue of last year’s Presidents Cup that is hosting a women’s professional event for the first time.
Seo shot a 66, the best score in the first two days of the tournament also sanctioned by Australian Ladies Professional Golf and the Ladies European Tour.
“It is very hard to play this great course,” Seo said. “I know it is not an easy course, so I was nervous.”
Stacy Lewis of the US, the Kraft Nabisco winner, birdied 12 and 13 to take the lead at seven-under, but she followed that with a triple-bogey seven on 14 and bogeys on 15 and 16. She eagled the par-five 17th and closed with a par for a 73 to finish at four-under.
American Jessica Korda, England’s Melissa Reid and Paraguay’s Julieta Granada were also on four-under. Korda had a 70. Her father, Petr Korda, won the 1998 Australian Open tennis title. Reid shot a 71, while Granada had a 72.
Ryu works with Australian instructor Ian Triggs.
“He is a coach, but feels like a father,” Ryu said.
Triggs has helped her adjust well to Royal Melbourne’s fast greens.
“Sometimes I lose concentration and he wanted me to feel the putts on the putting green,” Ryu said. “I practiced just feeling putts. Sometimes, if I am really nervous, my routine is so fast. I just slowed down and really focused on my ball.”
She tied for second last week at the Australian Ladies Masters at Royal Pines, a stroke behind the Netherlands’ Christel Boeljon.
“I think the reason was that I really wanted to win the tournament,” Ryu said. “I think it was really high expectations of myself. I was thinking about winning and the trophy, and maybe I lost concentration.”
Seo also has a helpful Australian connection in caddie Dean Herden.
“He is not just a caddie for me,” Seo said. “He is like a brother, a dad sometimes, a friend. He makes me really comfortable all the time. Sometimes he pushes me hard. Not on the course, but in training. I am very happy and very thankful for him.”
Two-time defending champion Yani Tseng was even-par after a 76. She had a quadruple-bogey eight on the seventh hole.
The Taiwanese world No. 1 won the tournament, sanctioned by the LPGA Tour for the first time this year, the last two seasons at Commonwealth Golf Club. She won 12 worldwide titles last year, including major victories in the LPGA Championship and the Women’s British Open.
Fellow Taiwanese Candie Kung (79) and Amy Hung (80) both missed the cut after carding a two-round total of 12-over 158.
Sixteen-year-old American teen star Lexi Thompson was two-over after her second 74. Four-time champion Karrie Webb was four-over after a 75.
Fourteen-year-old New Zealand amateur Lydia Ko also was four-over after a 76. She won the New South Wales Open two weeks ago to become the youngest winner of a sanctioned professional tour event.
World No. 2 Suzann Pettersen of Norway followed her opening 80 — the second-highest score of her LPGA Tour career — with a 71 to make the cut.
Additional reporting by staff writer