Sunday, September 22, 2013

Pressel poised to end drought

Pressel poised to end drought

The Sports Xchange June 8, 2013 9:10 PMThe SportsXchange

PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- Morgan Pressel has teed it up 106 times in tournament play since her last victory at the 2008 Kapalua LPGA Classic.

She's positioned herself well to end that drought on Sunday in the Wegmans LPGA Championship, but there's a lot of work left to do on what will be a marathon day at Locust Hill Country Club.

There are 20 players within six shots of the lead, which sits at 6 under par after Pressel carded a 2-under 70 on Saturday in the second round. Rain washed out the first round on Thursday, meaning players will play 36 holes Sunday to complete the third and fourth rounds.

"The question will be just how committed I can be to every shot, because when you get tired your mind starts to wonder," Pressel said. "So that'll be the biggest test, truly staying focused on every shot. At the end of the day I probably won't want to think another second, but that will mean that I gave it my all."

Starting on the 10th hole in the afternoon wave and dealing with an occasional downpour on her front nine, Pressel birdied three of her first five holes to move to 7 under. She dropped shots at the par-4 16th and 18th holes but steadied herself coming in by playing her final nine holes in 1 under, thanks to a birdie on the par-5 eighth hole.

There are several players giving chase, most notably world No. 1 Inbee Park. She tied for the day's low round with a 4-under 68 and is 4 under for the tournament, tied for second place with first-round leader Chella Choi. Those two will join Pressel for the final two rounds.

Park and Pressel played junior golf together in Florida, but lately their careers have gone in opposite directions. Pressel has just one top-10 this season, and Park has won three times, including the season's first major in the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

"I've experienced a lot of golf," she said. "That really helps going into major championships like this.

"You feel a lot more comfortable."

Asian-born players have won the last eight majors on the LPGA Tour, and if Pressel falters Sunday, they're in position to continue that streak. Including Park and Choi, six of the top 11 players on the leader board come from South Korea, with Amy Yang and Jiyai Shin in a tie for fourth at 3 under and Sun Young Yoo and Na Yeon Choi part of a tie for seventh at 2 under.

The last time an LPGA major went to 36 holes in the 2012 Women's British Open, Shin romped to a nine-shot victory.

Yoo had an incredible stretch of birdie-eagle-birdie-birdie from holes nine through 12, but faltered with a pair of bogeys down the stretch to finish at 3-under-par 69 for her round.

Just 13 players are under par after another cold, wet day. Overnight rain left the already-waterlogged course downright sloppy in areas.

"I've heard a lot of people talk about the rough and you just gotta not hit it in it, basically. It's easier said than done, but just stay away from it," said Australian Sarah Jane Smith, who did that by hitting 11 of 14 fairways on her way to a round of 3-under 69.

Park hit 12 of 14 fairways in the second round.

"If you hit the ball straighter, it makes the golf course play a lot easier," she said. "I've been doing that the last two days here."

NOTES: Tying Park for low round of the day with a 68 was Michelle Wie. She's at par for the championship and moved up 57 spots on the leaderboard, from a tie for 71st to a tie for 14th. ... World No. 2 Stacy Lewis, the top-ranked American, is in a tie for 31st at 2 over for the tournament after shooting par 72. ... South Korean Mi Jung Hur has hit only 25 percent of the fairways this week, an astonishingly low number because of the heavy rough, but made the cut thanks to taking just 51 putts, second in the field to Pressel's 50 through two rounds.

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