South Korea’s Shin Ji-yai stormed into a five-shot halfway lead at the Women’s British Open at Royal Liverpool on Saturday as she eyed a second career triumph in the major.
After all the wind problems that wiped out Friday’s play, the 2008 winner at Sunningdale took advantage of the warm, calmer conditions to add a flawless 64 to her opening 71.
Shin led on nine-under 135 with another South Korean, and her playing partner Park Inbee, was the next best at four-under following a 68.
With 36 holes to be played yesterday, Japan’s Mika Miyazato and Australian three-time winner Karrie Webb started in joint third on three-under. They both shot 70.
Shin, a former world No. 1, missed a couple of months of the LPGA Tour earlier in the year when she underwent a wrist operation, having had a piece of bone removed, but she then claimed her first title in more than two years by defeating Paula Creamer of the US in a nine-hole playoff last Monday at the Kingsmill Championship.
She shot a nine-under 62 in the first round at Kingsmill, but she reckoned Saturday’s 64 that started with a chip in for eagle and three straight birdies was even better.
“I can’t believe I just did that,” was the 24-year-old’s reaction after halves of 31 and 33. “My goal this week was to shoot one-under-par every round, but I made such a great start and I didn’t have any bogeys, and I didn’t go in any bunkers so it was almost perfect.”
“This Championship is so special to me. The win four years ago changed my life and I have lots of fans in England. I have so many good memories of playing over here,” she said. “I also love links golf. It is such a great test and this is definitely my favorite week of the season.”
World No. 1 Yani Tseng of Taiwan is aiming to become the first three-in-a-row winner and, after two rounds of 72 for even-par 144, tagging a win at Royal Liverpool onto Birkdale and Carnoustie is still not out of the question.
Starting the day at even-par, the two-time defending champion stumbled out of the gate, carding a bogey on each of her first two holes.
She then steadied herself with four birdies and only one bogey over the next eight holes to move to one-under for the tournament, but an adventurous double-bogey on the 17th hole, in which she landed in two of Hoylake’s treacherous sand traps, killed any chance she had of finishing her first two rounds under par.
A birdie on the 18th hole left her at even-par 144 after two consecutive even-par rounds.
Tseng told Central News Agency that she was pleased with how she played on the front nine and with her putting, but was disappointed at finding as many sand traps as she did. She hoped to improve yesterday and said patience was the key on British Open courses.
“When you play your shots, you can’t overthink things,” Tseng said. “On this course, you may have a really good score or you may have a hole where you hit a lot of strokes. The weather changes often in England, and you have to stay patient and concentrate on every shot.”
The cut fell on five-over and Taiwan’s Amy Hung (two-over) and Candie Kung (five-over) also made it through.
Lydia Ko, the 15-year-old New Zealand amateur, finished one shot better than Tseng after a 71. She goes into the final 36 hole tied for sixth and set to make even more of an impact on the world game.
As with Shin, Park also made her breakthrough in 2008 when she won the US Women’s Open. Her second Tour title came in July at the Evian Masters in France, a tournament that will become the fifth major next year.