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Choi takes narrow lead going into the weekend
August 10, 2012

Chella Choi -9, Rolex Rankings No. 52
Inbee Park -8, Rolex Rankings No. 15
Hee Kyung Seo -8, Rolex Rankings No. 32
Mika Miyazato -8, Rolex Rankings No.
Hee-Won Han -7, Rolex Rankings No. 84
Karine Icher -7, Rolex Rankings No. 57
So Yeon Ryu -7, Rolex Rankings No. 22
Pernilla Lindberg -7, Rolex Rankings No. 114
Kathleen Ekey -5, Rolex Rankings No. 379
Sydnee Michaels -5, Rolex Rankings No. 285
Stacy Lewis -5, Rolex Rankings No. 2


Chella Choi fired a second-round 4-under 67 to take the lead at the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic Presented by Kroger, Owens Corning and O-I. Despite the misting rains at the beginning of her round, Choi birdied the first hole and went on to make the turn at 3-under par for the day.

It wasn’t until the back-nine that Choi faltered a bit with back-to-back bogeys on Nos. 10 and 11 and moved back to 1-under par for the day. Choi quickly rebounded with three birdies down the stretch to end the day at 4-under par and 9-under for the tournament.

“I play really good today, same yesterday,” said Choi. “Shot it really good today. I hit 16 the green, 12 hit the fairway. So shot was really good.”

Currently in third year on the LPGA Tour, a win this week by Choi would mark the fifth Rolex First-Time Winner this season. Choi heads into the weekend with a one-stroke lead over Inbee Park, Hee Kyung Seo, and Mika Miyazato.

Chella Choi entered the Media Center after her round on Friday a bit red in the face. The embarrassment all stemmed from a wardrobe malfunction which occurred on the ninth hole.

When reached in her right pocket on her shorts to retrieve her divot repair tool, a large rip formed exposing her leggings. Luckily Choi decided to wear tights due to the chilly temperatures when she teed off this morning.

“No. 9 putting, switched my divot, and pulled my pocket,” said Choi. “This morning a little bit cold so I try leggings, yeah.”

Inbee Park is coming off a victory at the Evian Masters and she finds herself in contention yet again at this week’s Jamie Farr Toledo Classic Presented by Kroger, Owens Corning and O-I. While some people might find it difficult to win back-to-back tournaments, Park is relishing in the confidence she gained from her most recent win.

“I think it is actually easy and tough at the same time because you have such a confidence out there that wee,” said Park. “Playing with the confidence, you feel a lot more comfortable on the golf course. Even if you're not playing as well as you think, you can be a little bit easier on yourself. If you're playing really good, I think that's a bonus. So I think it's more comfortable.”

Park contributes her success this year to her hard work during the off season. Of course, this could be a little easier when your coach is also your fiancée. Park got engaged to her swing coach last year and has not yet set a date for the wedding.

“I worked a lot on my long game,” said Park. “I have a new coach. My swing has improved a lot. I'm really comfortable with my swing right now.”

When Park was asked during her post-round interview on Friday if there were any chances of firing her coach she laughed and said, “no way”.

Hee Kyung Seo got her first LPGA Tour victory prior to becoming a member at the 2010 Kia Classic Presented by J Golf. Seo had a chance of winning her first LPGA event as a member in 2011 but eventually lost in a playoff to fellow Korean So Yeon Ryu.

A win this week would mark her first LPGA win as a member and Seo will rely heavily on her experiences in Korea to make it happen.

“Really I want to be first win as a member,” said Seo. “I had lots of, you know, this situation when I was playing Korea, so I'm very get used to it. I'll just wait for what's going to happen and try to do my best.”

From 2008-2009 Seo recorded an impressive eleven victories on the KLPGA Tour with her largest margins of victory coming at the 2008 Binhai Open and 2009 Hite Cup Championship where she won by five-strokes.

Karine Icher followed-up a first round 5-under par 66 with a 2-under par 69 on Friday on what she considered a more difficult golf course than yesterday.

“The wind was a little bit different than yesterday, stronger,” said Icher. “Pin position was not very easy. The course was a little bit longer because last night we had a lot of rain, so much more roll on the fairways. It makes the course more difficult. For me was a little bit more difficult at the beginning.”

With an early morning tee-time on Friday, Icher got off to a shaky start with bogeys on numbers one and seven in the midst of misting rain.

“Yeah, it's always better to play with the sunshine,” said Icher. “The rain was like a little bit not a lot but enough to be wet. The green was wet also so I hope it's going to be better this weekend.”

With better weather in the forecast for the weekend, Icher could become the fifth Rolex First-Time Winner this season as she stands two strokes behind current leader Chella Choi.

This year has served as a year of firsts for last year’s U.S. Women’s Open Champion So Yeon Ryu. As a result of this being her rookie season on the LPGA Tour, Ryu has not seen many of the golf courses forcing to wake up early to get a first look at the course.

“Actually, this is my rookie year, but everybody ask, are you rookie,” said Ryu. “I already won the U.S. Women's Open so everybody thought I'm not rookie, but actually this is my rookie year. So sometimes it's really hard because I don't know every tournament course, so I have to wake up early and I have to check the course. So it's a little tough.”

Ryu has relied heavily on her fellow South Korean’s to show her the ropes of life fn the LPGA including finding local Korean restaurants at the different Tour stops.

“Everybody help a lot each other,” said Ryu. “Especially I'm the rookie, I don't know the LPGA system or a lot of things. A lot of older player taught me. Especially I don't know the location near the golf course, kind of Korean restaurant or something like that. But the older Koreans gave me a lot of information.”

Originally from Dayton, Ohio, Kathleen Ekey is no stranger to this week’s Highland Meadows Golf Club. While attending Walsh Jesuit High School, Ekey played the Sylvania, Ohio golf course in 2004 and took home the victory.

“I grew up on these kinds of golf courses,” said Ekey. “I really enjoy it. Actually the last time I played here was in high school. My senior year we played a tournament here and I actually won, so maybe that's some good mojo, I don't know. It's a great golf course. It's just great to be able to spend some time in Ohio and play well, too.”

Feeling good karma this week, Ekey has struggled a bit during this year’s rookie season. After earning her LPGA Tour card through the Symetra Tour, Ekey has gone on to only make one cut where she finished tied for 60th at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic.

“You know, it just hasn't quite gelled all together at all this year,” said Ekey. “Then the last two days it's seemed to come together. I've been able to make some putts, make some birdies.”

Sydnee Michaels played in last week’s Credit Union Challenge Presented by SEFCU, Sunmark and BFB benefits on the Symetra Tour and much to her surprise she had to go without a caddie. Michaels could be seen pulling and pushing her heavy staff bag up-and-down the undulating hills of the Capital Hills at Albany.

Admittedly not good at math, Michaels is thankful to be back out on the LPGA Tour where she can have a caddie to not only carry her heavy staff bag but handle her pin sheets.

“It feels really good,” said Michaels of having her caddy back on the bag. “Another thing is I'm not the best at math, so I definitely miscalculated a couple yardages. My pin sheet was bleeding red with my red Sharpie. I think I lost about five pounds last week pushing my bag up and down the hill. So it's really nice to have a caddie.”

Stacy Lewis who was born in Toledo, Ohio has had quite the following at this week’s Jamie Farr Toledo Classic Presented by Kroger, Owens Corning and O-I. Several of Lewis’s family, friends, and sponsors, including Marathon, have come together to create brightly colored shirts with “Lew Crew” across the front.

“It's awesome,” said Lewis of her gallery. “I was trying to give them something to cheer for today., I made a couple putts. The last couple years, they've grown in numbers, gotten more shirts every year. It's really cool to have them out there. I don't think anybody else has anything like it, so it's pretty cool.”

While there were only 30 members of the Lew Crew in attendance for Friday’s second round, the group has ordered 130 shirts in anticipation for a larger showing on the weekend.

“I don't know, maybe 30 people today,” said Lewis of the size of today’s gallery. “I think they ordered about 130 T‑shirts. Who knows what it will be like this weekend when the weather's a little better.”

Thanks to her recent success on the LPGA, Lewis has become quite the celebrity around the world but she is noticing it a bit more this week in Toledo.

“It's fun,” said Lewis. “It's cool to come back as I've been playing better. It's weird, we had a big family dinner last night, went to a restaurant. People were coming up for autographs. Everybody kind of recognized who I was. It's cool to go to all these towns again and people are starting to realize who I am. Kind of fans have grown every year.”

Jennifer Rosales was the lucky winner of a new Kia Optimum Limited on Friday as she recorded a hole-in-one on the179 yard par-3 14th with a 4-iron. Rosales becomes the second player of the year to win a Kia, the Official Automotive Limited, with a hole-in-one following Jenny Shin who aced the par-3 17th at the Kraft Nabisco Championship.

Friday was a special day on the par-3 14th hole of Highland Meadows Golf Club as fans and players enjoyed Friday at the Farr. A new concept brought to light this year, the hole allowed spectators the opportunity to interact first-hand with their favorite LPGA Tour members.

Former Louisiana State University (LSU) golfer Meredith Duncan took full advantage of Friday at the Farr to throw out some of Louisiana’s signature Mardi Gras beads.

“I had a bag of beads stashed there on the 14th tee and they asked us to throw stuff so I thought why not throw Mardi Gras beads,” said Duncan. “They were standing there and my first attempt I think I misjudged how high they were up so my first attempt hit the backboard. I had to get a little bit closer and throw them a little bit higher.”

A total of 74 players made the cut which fell at 142.

Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng missed her third cut of the season after a second-round even-par 71 landed her tied for 75th. First-round leader Pernilla Lindberg shot a second-round even-par 71 and currently two strokes behind current leader Chella Choi.

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