Sky 72 Golf Club Ocean Course
Incheon, South Korea
Second-round notes and interviews
October 30, 2010
Korean Song-Hee Kim fired her second-consecutive 4-under 68 Saturday to lead by one shot at the LPGA Hana Bank Championship Presented by SK telecom at Sky 72 Golf Club’s Ocean Course in Incheon, South Korea. Defending champion Na Yeon Choi (South Korea) is one shot back at 7-under, with American Vicky Hurst one shot behind her, and American Juli Inkster one shot behind her.
Song-Hee Kim is looking to become only the third Rolex First-Time winner of 2010. Sun Young Yoo captured the Sybase Match Play earlier this year, and Beatriz Recari earned her first LPGA victory two weeks ago at the CVS/pharmacy LPGA Challenge.
Best friends forever: Though battling it out for a coveted hometown win, Song-Hee Kim and Na Yeon Choi are best friends, so the back nine Sunday might have a bit different vibe than a normal event.
Said Kim, who has 20 top 10s in her last 26 starts but is still looking for her first win: “I have never played with Na Yeon in the last round of any event. Since we are best friends, it's going be like playing in the practice round. So I will have fun on the course with my best friend.”
Said Choi, already a three-time winner: “I don’t care about results. I’ll do my best tomorrow. I want to just have fun with Song-Hee.”
Hurst in first: As for Hurst, she’ll be the third wheel Sunday, but she said that takes a backseat to simply having to chase down two of the world’s best golfers. What does she think it’ll take to overcome the pair? “To beat those girls, 65?” she laughed. “It all depends. They’re both going to play great tomorrow, so I just have to bring my game.”
Good news from the homefront: While the world’s best are duking it out on the other side of the globe, the LPGA and Wegmans jointly announced Friday that they will continue their partnership of the LPGA Championship, with Wegmans stepping up into the title sponsorship position of the venerable LPGA major event for two additional years. The 2011 Wegmans LPGA Championship will be held June 20-26. It will feature a $2.5 million purse and continue to support Graduation is the Goal.
“I'm so excited that the LPGA Championship is back at Locust Hill for another two years,” said Rolex Rankings No. 1 Cristie Kerr, who first ascended to the No. 1 spot after she lapped the field at this year’s event by 12 shots. “I believe it is a first-class venue for the event, and I'm thrilled I get to defend. Wegman's is an amazing sponsor and partner of the LPGA's, and this event deserves all the attention it gets from the community.”
D-fence: If Choi can seal the deal Sunday, she’ll be the first to successfully defend a title since Lorena Ochoa did it at the Navistar LPGA Classic Presented by Monaco RV in 2008-09. Ochoa also did it earlier that season at the Tres Marias Championship in her native Mexico.
Ageless wonder: Fifty-year-old Juli Inkster, who continues her quest to become the oldest winner on the LPGA by nearly four years, is hanging around again. Inkster shot a 4-under 68 to lurk three shots back in fourth at 5-under, one week after a bogey on the final hole dropped her out of a tie for first and a spot in a two-woman playoff. “I think I’m over last week,” she said. “I’ve played so long out here, I just kind of let it go. What it did tell me is I’m playing well, and I can compete out here.”
Finishing with a flourish: Inbee Park went birdie-par-birdie-eagle over her final four holes to card a 5-under 67, the round of the tournament so far. She moved from a tie for 35th at the beginning of the day to a tie for fifth at 4-under.
Finishing with a flourish, part deux: Rolex Rankings No. 2 Jiyai Shin turned it around on her back nine Saturday. One-over for the day and 2-over for the tournament after a bogey on her 10th hole, Shin then holed out for eagle on the par-4 second and made birdies on three, five and nine to get herself back into the tournament at T11. Keep an eye on the “Final Round Queen.”
Race for Rolex Rankings No. 1: No. 1 Cristie Kerr shot a second-consecutive 71 to finish 2-under (T13); No. 2 Jiyai Shin made an eagle and three birdies over her last eight holes to shoot a 4-under 68 and get back to 3-under overall (T11). No. 4 and 2007 champ Suzann Pettersen finished birdie-birdie to shoot a 3-under 69 and finish 4-under (T5).
Low Rookie: There are just three rookies in the field this week. Azahara Munoz, who has nearly sewed up the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year, shot an Even-par 72 to sit at 1-over total and in a tie for 35th. Amanda Blumenherst led the trio at 4-under (T5) after her second-consecutive 2-under 70. Gwladys Nocera, the third, shot 74 to finish 2-over (T40).
Tune-in: Coverage of second-round play will air on Golf Channel Saturday from Noon-2 p.m. EDT.
QUICK QUOTES FROM SONG-HEE KIM, Rolex Rankings No. 8
“I played really well in the early part of the round, but I struggled with my shots in the last part of the round. I managed to overcome the adversity with my putting. I think I can play well tomorrow if I play the way I played today.”
“I have never played with Na Yeon in the last round of any event. Since we are best friends, it's going be like playing in the practice round. So I will have fun on the course with my best friend.”
QUICK QUOTES FROM NA YEON CHOI, Rolex Rankings No. 6
“I have confidence right now, and I have a good feeling about my game. I felt that I lost focus on the last couple holes, so I’m going to go to the range and hit some balls and get more focus and confidence.”
“I don’t care about results. I’ll do my best tomorrow. I want to just have fun with Song-Hee. I can’t control results. I’ll just play my best.”
QUICK QUOTES FROM VICKY HURST, Rolex Rankings No. 77
“I started out hitting it really well and long, so I made a couple birdies on the par-5s.”
“They’re both so good, and they have so much experience, so I’m just going to try and play my game and have fun. I had fun with Song-Hee and Amy today.”
“To beat those girls, 65? (Laughs.) It all depends. They’re both going to play great tomorrow, so I just have to bring my game.”
QUICK QUOTES FROM JULI INKSTER, Rolex Rankings No. 51
“I played really good today, hit a lot of really good iron shots, had a lot of good birdie opportunities. I played pretty consistent. I three-putted 15, but other than that, I played pretty good.”
“I’m going to have to shoot a really good round. Song-Hee’s up there, Na Yeon’s up there, Vicky Hurst. So there’s a lot of people between me and the leaders. If I just go out there and play like I’m playing, I’m going to have a good chance.”
“I think I’m over last week. I’ve played so long out here, I just kind of let it go. What it did tell me is I’m playing well, and I can compete out here.”