Norway’s Suzann Pettersen shot a 4-under 68 yesterday to extend her lead to five strokes over South Korea’s Ryu So-yeon after the second round of the LPGA KEB HanaBank Championship.
Meanwhile, Taiwanese star Yani Tseng, the defending champion, ended her round strongly to suggest that her recent slump may be coming to an end.
Pettersen did not reach the levels of her opening round, when she carded a course-record 63, but still had a strong lead going into the final day of the three-round event at the Sky72 Ocean Course at Incheon.
Two birdies on the final two holes capped a strong performance over the first two days for the No. 9-ranked player.
“It just felt like I got out there this morning and I didn’t really expect it to be as breezy as it was,” Pettersen said. “Not that it was extremely windy, but it was a little different yesterday ... and it almost took me nine holes to kind of adjust to the conditions.”
“On the back nine, very happy the way I finished. I was standing on 15 and said to myself, it would be nice to finish with two or three birdies, and I think that’s what I did. Good way to finish the day,” she said.
Ryu had a 70 to hold outright second place, a stroke ahead of compatriot Pak Se-ri, who had the day’s best round with a 67, Germany’s Sandra Gal, and the top-ranked Tseng.
Ryu, the 2011 US Open champion, is leading the race to be the tour’s Rookie of the Year, and is having to adjust to her star status in her homeland.
“If the Hana Bank winner is Korean, they will love it, because this is in Korea,” Ryu said.
“But sometimes it really makes it tough and crazy, but I want to enjoy this tough situation because I am a professional. I’m so happy to be playing in front of the Korean fans, and I want to really say thanks to the Korean fans,” she said.
“The final round is always tough. I think though I am ready to play tomorrow,” Ryu said.
Two birdies in the first four holes yesterday put Tseng just two shots behind the leader only for bogies at the sixth, eighth and ninth holes to drag her back into the pack.
Three birdies on the back nine left the defending champion six shots off the pace and with an outside chance of a successive title.
“I’m very looking forward to tomorrow and just want to relax and have the same strategy as today,” Tseng said.
One shot back, seven behind Pettersen, are Lexi Thompson of the US, Scotland’s Catriona Matthew, Azahara Munoz of Spain and local player Kim Ha-neul.