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Pettersen holds on to lead going into final day
October 20, 2012

Suzann Pettersen, -13, Rolex Rankings No. 9
So Yeon Ryu, -8, Rolex Rankings No. 10
Yani Tseng, -7, Rolex Rankings No. 1
Se Ri Pak, -7, Rolex Rankings No. 27

Rolex Rankings No. 9 Suzann Pettersen (@suzannpettersen) maintained her lead in the second round and shot 4-under 68 to take a five-shot lead into the final round at the LPGA KEB·HanaBank Championship (@hanabankgolf). LPGA Tour rookie and 2011 U.S. Women’s Open champion So Yeon Ryu (@1soyeonryu) trails Pettersen by five shots and holds sole position of second. A group of three including Rolex Rankings No. 1 and defending champion Yani Tseng (@YaniTseng), No. 29 Sandra Gal (@TheSandraGal) and LPGA Tour and World Golf Halls of Fame member Se Ri Pak are tied for third at 7-under par.

Three rounds this time around: By the time she made the turn in her second round, it looked like Suzann Pettersen may have some close company at the top of the leaderboard heading into Sunday’s final round. But the eight-time LPGA winner overcame a slow start on Saturday to card four of her five birdies on the back nine en route to a 4-under 68.

“It just felt like I got out there this morning and I didn't really expect it to be as breezy as it was,” said Pettersen. “Not that it was extremely windy, but it was a little different yesterday, and it kind of took me a few holes to kind of adjust, and it almost took me nine holes to kind of adjust to the conditions. Just felt like it was a little bit harder to get really close. Gave myself a lot of chances, didn't quite roll them in to start off. “

Pettersen didn’t get her first birdie until the par 5 seventh and followed it up with a bogey on the par 3 eighth. It was there she did a mental check and told herself it was time to get going. She made the turn at even-par for the day and tied for the lead with Karin Sjodin.

“Made a good birdie on 7, missed a very short putt on 8, a bit of a silly one, and I kind of lost my concentration, and I said to myself, you can't let your focus slip. As much as I wanted to make it, it was almost a break point where I got my focus back, it got my attention.”

She went on the have a bogey-free back nine, carding four of her five birdies and a birdie-birdie finish.

“On the back nine, very happy the way I finished. I was standing on 15 and said to myself, it would be nice to finish with two or three birdies, and I think that's what I did. Good way to finish the day.”

The last time Pettersen won in Korea back in 2007, the tournament was cut to 36 holes due to extreme weather conditions. She said a three-day win here would leave her satisfied. Her last victory came over a year ago in August of 2011 at the Safeway Classic Presented by Coca-Cola.

“The last time I won here in Korea, I was leading,” said Pettersen. “Finished Saturday and never got to play on Sunday, so I really hope that I can complete the three rounds and hopefully be the last woman standing tomorrow.”

South Korean native and LPGA Tour rookie So Yeon Ryu carded four birdies and two bogeys en route to a 2-under 70 in the second round at the LGPA KEB-HanaBank Championship. She sits 8-under for the week and five shots off the lead with 18 holes to play. Ryu mentioned how nervous she was before the first round on Friday, but said that she felt a lot more comfortable in the second round.

“Today is a lot better, a lot better,” said Ryu. “Especially today playing with a Korean girl (Ha-Neul Kim) who's my really great friend. She plays on KLPGA Tour and she's a really great player. So a bit more relaxed. Yesterday was first round, that's why I was a bit more nervous. But I played great, and then I was relieved.”

Ryu leads the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year race by 510 points over Lexi Thompson and has had an outstanding first full year on Tour. She said her win at the U.S. Women’s Open in 2011 started the fanfare around her as a player and only heightened expectations heading into her rookie season as a member.

“After my U.S. Women's Open win, that was huge,” said Ryu. “That's why a bit more Korean fans expect really huge level. They really love ‑‑ if the Hana Bank winner is Korean, they will love it, because this is in Korea. But sometimes it really makes it tough and crazy, but I want to enjoy this tough situation because I am a professional. I'm so happy to be playing in front of the Korean fans, and I want to really say thanks for to the Korean fans.”

Ryu said her short game held her back in the second round and hopes eliminating laspes in concentration will help her down the stretch on Sunday.

“Today it wasn't bad,” said Ryu. “Just I missed a couple of chip shots, but it's really great practice before the final round. The final round is always really tough. I think I am ready to play, though, tomorrow.”

Asked if she needs to make any adjustment for the final round, “I just have to practice chipping,” said Ryu. “That's it.”

Rolex Rankings No. 27 Se Ri Pak is making a run at her second-career LPGA Tour victory in Korea this week and put herself in great position for Sunday’s final round. Pak shot the low round of the day on Saturday with a five-birdie, no bogey 5-under 67. The South Korean star improved her first round score by three shots but said that there wasn’t much difference between the two rounds.

“Yesterday was really good, though, a couple shots here and there I missed because ‑‑ one double, that's a big number,” said Pak. “But other than that, it wasn't really different yesterday and today. I make more consistency. I don't think I missed shots. Some, but it's not as bad as yesterday. But missed some putts, and I didn't have any bogeys. Actually that helps. Golf swing feels good, everything is good, and I feel ‑‑ I'm having fun out there.”

Pak, a 25-time LPGA winner and considered one of the pioneers of women’s golf in Korea, won the inaugural LPGA event in South Korea back in 2002 at the tournament formerly named Sports Today. After her second round on Saturday, the connection to the Korean fans was evident. She was greeted by a swarm of anxious supporters waiting to get a glimpse, photo and autogrpah of the local legend.

“I'd say this week is bigger with fans than usual, I think, than the last couple years,” said Pak. “It was pretty good to see them out there today. Of course that helps me a lot. Of course it gives me a lot of excitement.

“I hope that tomorrow’s round will turn out the way my fans expect it to be,” said Pak. “So, I’ll do my best tomorrow as I did today. I hope I’ll be able to show a big smile after taking off my gloves on the 18th hole.”

Pak has played a limited schedule in 2012 but has made the most of her appearances on Tour in her 14th year. She has recorded four top-10’s in 10 starts, two of them coming in major championships. She tied for eighth at the Kraft Nabisco Championship, finished tied for ninth at the U.S. Women’s Open and eighth at the Evian Masters Presented by Societe Generale which will be a major in 2013. Pak hopes to take some time off in the off season and return even stronger for next year’s schedule.

“It was a really great season this year so far, but I got injured in Mobile, Alabama, so that takes me a couple extra tournaments off, and now still I'm trying to rehab, of course,” said Pak. “It's really not a serious injury, but I was trying to take care as much as I could to get ready for 2013. So that's my goal.

So the next week is my last tournament, the final field of 2012, and trying to get back to 110 percent for next year. I am looking forward to being rested a little bit with my family and hopefully next year get restarted.”

The world’s No. 1 player has been dealing with the criticism of sticking in a slump for most of the 2012 season but after two rounds in Korea, it’s a familiar scene to see Yani Tseng’s name at the top of the leaderboard.

“Feels pretty good,” said Tseng. “I mean, today was tougher than yesterday, and I had a couple wrong decisions on the front nine, so made a couple bogeys there. And I had two three‑putts. Greens were very tricky today, but I hung in there and I finished strong, last five I had three birdies.”

Tseng started her day with birdies on Nos. 1 and 3 before posting three bogeys out of the last four holes on the front nine. She proved to herself she could finish strong after getting three-consecutive birdies to close out her first round on Friday and just about followed up the performance. She would birdie Nos. 14, 15 and 18 to take some momentum into the final round. She stuck her third shot on the par 5 18th to within three feet and gave the Korean gallery something to watch

“Always very happy to get a finish like that on 18 and enjoy the crowd.,” said Tseng. “I think it's very important, kind of make your day. Then you can go back home and be a happy person and have a good sleep and come out tomorrow with smiles. I'm very looking forward to tomorrow and just want to relax and have the same strategy as today.”

Only four events remain on the 2012 schedule before the season-ending CME Group Titleholders and players who have not yet qualified for the tournament will be in a final chase for a spot in the limited-field event. The season finale, which will be held Nov. 15-18 at The TwinEagles in Naples, Fla., will feature a field made up of three qualifiers from every LPGA Tour tournament this season. Players who have not yet qualified but are in the hunt this week after two rounds of play are as follows: Karin Sjodin, 10 (-5); Brittany Lang, T22 (-2); Nicole Castrale, T34 (+1); Jennifer Johnson, T34 (+1); Pornanong Phatlum, T40 (+2); Cindy LaCrosse, T60 (+5).

“I love coming to Korea. I have a lot of Korean friends, not only Korean friends on Tour, but I also have some fantastic partnerships with Korean companies over the years of my career. Like I said, I'm just really trying to embrace coming here, embrace the people, embrace the fans, and obviously really try to enjoy the golf course. If you equal that, that just gives love for Korea.” –Suzann Pettersen on why she thinks she continues to play South Korea.

Goes to LPGA rookie Lexi Thompson who toured the event’s expo tent center and came across a familiar face.

“Oh hey look what I found in the puma tent at the KEB HanaBank :P #lifesizecutout” --@Lexi

Lexi Thompson shot a 2-under 70 in the second round and holds the top American spot on the leaderboard. She sits seven shots off the lead at 6-under par. Two-time champion Na Yeon Choi failed to break par on Saturday and carded a 1-over 73 to leave her T28 and 12 shots back heading into Sunday. Rolex Rankings No. 33 Morgan Pressel withdrew prior to the second round due to injury.

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