American Morgan Pressel and Mirim Lee of South Korea share a one-shot lead over LPGA Tour rookie Alison Lee and fellow American Cristie Kerr entering Saturday’s third round of the $1.7 million Kia Classic.
Pressel equaled the women’s course record at Carlsbad’s Aviara Golf Club and her career low with an eight-under-par 64 Friday to go to 10-under-par for the tournament.
Pressel began the round five shots behind Mirim Lee, the first-round leader, then had a bogey-free round with four birdies on both the front and back nines.
“It was definitely stress-free,” Pressel said after tying the women’s course record set by Dori Carter in the second round of last year’s tournament.
“I hit almost every fairway and I think I hit 16 or 17 greens and just had a chance for birdie on almost every hole. I think there was only one time I had a par putt of over two feet, so that was nice.”
Pressel said she “just hit it where I wanted to hit it.”
“It’s been a while since I’ve kind of been confident knowing where the ball would go so it was nice to kind of swing freely out there (Friday) and have the result I did,” said Pressel, who hasn’t had a better finish than a tie for 33rd in her five previous tournaments this season.
Mirim Lee fired a three-under-par 69 on Friday with six birdies and three bogeys to hold or share the 36-hole lead for the second time in her LPGA career.
Alison Lee shot a six-under-par 66, including four consecutive birdies from the sixth through ninth holes to move from a tie for 17th to a tie for third.
“I’m just in tune with my swing right now,” the 20-year-old Lee said. “I think I’m striking the ball really well. That’s been my key for the past couple weeks.
“I haven’t missed very much greens and I’ve been getting the yardages right and hitting it pretty good and I feel really confident when I’m over the ball for my approach shot.”
Lydia Ko, the world’s top-ranked women’s player, shot a two-under-par 70, her 26th consecutive sub-par round on the LPGA Tour, three behind the record of 29 set by Annika Sorenstam in 2004.
“I didn’t know the record was 29 until I saw it on Twitter,” said the 17-year-old Ko, who was born in South Korea and lives in New Zealand.
“I don’t know all the records and all the details on that, but … like I always say, I’m going to try and have fun and if I play good golf and kind of broke some records, great.”
Ko is among three golfers tied for ninth at seven-under-par 144, three shots off the lead. Ko has finished in the top 10 in each of her last 10 tournaments.
The field was reduced to 77 players following conclusion of play Friday. American Michelle Wie was among 17 players at the cut line of one-under-par 143.
The tournament is the LPGA’s seventh of the year. There have been six different winners, all born in South Korea.
The tournament concludes Sunday. The winner will receive $255,000 and a Kia K900 luxury sedan.
— City News Service