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Pettersen takes lead with tournament record
October 19, 2012

Suzann Pettersen, -9, Rolex Rankings No. 9
Karin Sjodin, -8, Rolex Rankings No. 75
Seo Yeon Ryu, -6, Rolex Rankings No. 10
Azahara Munoz, -6, Rolex Rankings No. 16

Rolex Rankings No. 9 Suzann Pettersen (@suzzannpettersen) shot a tournament record 9-under 63 to take a one-shot lead after 18 holes of play at the LPGA KEB·HanaBank Championship (@hanabankgolf). Pettersen carded 9 birdies in her bogey-free round and sits one shot in front of Karin Sjodin (@karin_sjodin). A group of five players including Rolex Rankings No. 7 Ai Miyazato, 2011 U.S. Women’s Open champion So Yeon Ryu, Sybase Match Play champion Azahara Munoz (@AzaharaGolf), and KLPGA members Hyun-Hee Moon and Ha-Neul Kim head into Saturday’s second round two shots off the lead at 6-under par.

For the second time in two weeks, Suzann Pettersen set an 18-hole tournament record. Last week at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia, she recorded a 7-under 64 in the second round, the lowest score at the event at that point. She opened her week in Korea in more record-setting fashion after posting a 9-under 63, the best 18-hole score in the event’s 11-year history.

Pettersen birdied six out of her first eight holes starting on No. 10 and said grasp of the greens let her convert on birdie opportunities.

"Got off to a good start, had the feel of the greens this morning, worked really hard to kind of feel the speed yesterday and made some great putts and obviously some great shots," said Pettersen. "Overall very solid round, 18 greens, 27 putts equals 9‑under par."

After faltering with some inconsistencies last week, Pettersen hoped to put three solid days together this week and knows her first round started her off on the right foot.

"I feel like I have some low rounds in me now," said Pettersen. "I was 7‑under last week, 9‑under this week. It's just nice, and some of your feel kind of equals the score you put on the scorecard. It feels like this year hasn't been a great year, but I feel like I've been playing well even though my scores haven't shown as good as I wanted to."

The eight-time winner and major champion is still looking for her first victory in 2012 and said that the state of her game is in good shape.

"You can't stress that in this game," said Pettersen. "You will go through ups and downs, and I wouldn't say I've been on a down, either, because I've been healthy, I've been feeling well and able to put in all the time and effort I feel is needed for my game. Maybe this can be a great turnaround."

Karin Sjodin opened her week in Korea tying her career-low round of 8-under 64 and credits lengthy birdie putts for going low in Friday’s opening round.

"I was hitting the ball really solid but maybe not very straight at all times," said Sjodin. "The birdies I made were long putts. I hit it close three times and missed all three. It seems to be a good idea to hit it far away and make long putts."

Sjodin, who is coming off a T35 last week in Malaysia, said that good putting has been a constant, but her irons were what needed to change this week.

"I think the last week I actually hit my irons horrible all week, but my putting was amazing the first three and a half days, so that saved me until the back nine on Sunday," said Sjodin. "So I worked quite a bit on my iron play on the range the first few days this week, and it seemed to be working today."

Sjodin carded four birdies on both the front and back nine and finished her round bogey-free. The seventh-year pro is still looking to break into the winner’s circle for the first time in her career but has the confidence to know she is capable of finishing at t the top of the leaderboard.

Sjodin shared the third-round lead at the Kraft Nabisco Championship this year and played with Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng in the final round. Asked whether she plays that week through her mind for a confidence booster, she said maybe not the specific turn of events that week, but in the back of her mind, she knows how good she can play.

"I don't know if I actually played it in my head, but I think every day waking up, I know that I can play with the best," said Sjodin. "The way I handled myself, I think, that Sunday, I wasn't nervous, I just enjoyed it and tried my best and stayed calm the whole day."

Sjodin would go on to shoot 3-over 74 on Sunday in Rancho Mirage and tied for fourth. Her finish stands as her best performance at a major championship and her career-best finish.

"I think somewhere in the back of my mind I'm replaying it but not so I'm aware of it. But at least it gives me confidence, without a doubt."

Rolex Rankings No. 10 Seo Yeon Ryu knew it would be and exciting week playing in front of her home fans in South Korea for the first time in her professional career. But she didn’t expect how nervous she would get before her round even started.

"Today when I was just arriving at the practice putting green, my leg was shaking, like I was nervous because this is the only LPGA tournament in Korea," said Ryu. "So I'm in front of the Korean fans. Maybe that was really ‑‑ how can I say? It was really tough for me. So when I started the first hole, I was pretty worried about today's round because I felt like my mind was so busy, I couldn't concentrate on my ball."

But Ryu shook off the nerves after she tapped in for birdie on the par 4 second and continued her solid play throughout the first round. She would go on to card seven more birdies and one bogey coming by a one-stroke penalty for readdressing her ball on the fourth hole. Ryu admitted to some drained feelings last week in Malaysia from the rain delays and said some extra help from her coach made a dramatic difference.

"I think today my round was pretty great," said Ryu. "Actually the last round in Malaysia I was so tired, a lot of rain delays and things like that. My swing was so bad. My coach was there so he was helping me a lot, so now my swing feels pretty great. So today I was hitting a couple of great shots so I could make a lot of birdies."

Ryu currently ranks No. 1 in the Rolex Rookie of the Year points and has had a standout first season on Tour. She has 12 top-10 finishes including her first win as a member at the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic Presented by Kroger, Owens Corning and O-1. She won the U.S. Women’s Open Championship last year in a three-hole playoff with Hee Kyung Seo as a member of the KLPGA. Ryu said that the win has taken the expectations among South Korean fans to another level.

"Especially last year I won the U.S. Women's Open, so the Korean fans' expectations, really huge, really high level," said Ryu. "Sometimes it makes me crazy, but I think I'm a really, really happy girl and I'm a lucky girl because I have a lot of Korean fans."

LPGA players, caddies and staff all donned stickers with the name of veteran rules official Doug Brecht who passed away last week after a three-month battle with West Nile Virus. After receiving the news on Saturday in Malaysia, the Tour finished the week with heavy hearts and tried to move forward in honoring a man who influenced so many and touched the lives of everyone he met.

Ten-year Tour member Suzann Pettersen said she was lucky enough to get to know Brecht off the course throughout her career. He was always serious about his job and had a no-nonsense approach to defending the integrity of the game. Pettersen said she took some warming up to find out how passionate he was about the Tour and its players

"I used to call him Grumpy, too," said Pettersen. "I thought he was the grumpiest guy out here. And we had our moments. But the last couple years I got to know him in a different way, and he was actually my favorite rules official. We had our moments out there when we were fighting and he gave me a bad break.

"But he was such a great guy, and I think he would love for us to celebrate him for who he was and his life instead of sitting down and crying," said Pettersen. "It was nice to go out today and play a good round of golf because that’s what he loved. I thought yesterday was a very nice hour with all of us together. It's nice to get together when stuff like that happens, and I think it's a good way for us to kind of give him the respect that he's deserved."

Third-year pro Azahara Munoz spent her three-hour rookie rules seminar with Brecht in 2010 and pointed out the Tour-wide admiration the players had for him.

"I think we all kind of want to play for him because it's easy to say when someone passed away, oh, he's a great person, but he was freaking amazing, said Munoz. "All of us loved him. I don't know one person that doesn't. It was really sad and I guess really unexpected, but I hope he's in a better place now, so we just want to play for him.

"I'm very happy with my new caddie. I feel like I've actually picked up the speed of my pace of play. I make decisions quicker. Just really trying to go with the flow." -Suzann Pettersen on playing with her new caddie as of last week in Malaysia.

Defending champion and Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng sits four shots off the lead and carded a first-round 5-under 67, two-time champion Na Yeon Choi heads into the second round T24 after shooting a 2-under 70.

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