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Lewis one stroke ahead
April 27, 2012

2011 Kraft Nabisco champion Stacy Lewis leads by one stroke after two rounds of play at the 2012 Mobile Bay LPGA Classic. Lewis fired a 5-under 67 on the Crossings Course at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail’s Magnolia Grove to move to 9-under-par for the tournament

Heading into the weekend, Karin Sjodin, So Yeon Ryu, Sydnee Michaels and Lindsey Wright all sit one shot back of Lewis at 8-under-par. There is also a group of five players, including Kraft Nabisco champion Sun Young Yoo, who sit two back at 7-under.

When Stacy Lewis won the 2011 Kraft Nabisco Championship not only did she become a Rolex First-Time Winner but she learned the ins-and-outs of what it takes to be in contention of an LPGA tournament.

Whether it is seeing her name atop the leaderboard or doing post-interviews, Lewis admitted on Friday it has been a learning curve.

"I think over the last year I've had a lot of opportunities being in contention and doing interviews and everything that goes along with that, and I've gotten so much more comfortable here," said Lewis. "It's okay to see your name on the leaderboard and I don't freak out or anything like that. So I don't know, I like being here and I like coming and talking in here."

Since becoming a Rolex First-Time Winner Lewis has recorded 14 top-10 finishes and finished runner-up or tied for second three times. This week Lewis has recorded only one bogey en route to an 8-under par two day total and sits atop the leaderboard heading to the weekend.

Since she was scheduled to tee off No. 10 in the first group at 6:50 a.m., Karin Sjodin had to be at the golf course quite early on Friday morning -- so early that she was warming up on the putting under lights. But her day took an unusual turn when all of sudden the lights went out.

"The lights went out. Putting on a dark green at 5:50 a.m. #NoFun," Sjodin tweeted.

Things certainly turned out to be fun for Sjodin later in her day, though. Sjodin tied her career-low round and the tournament record at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic by shooting an 8-under 64 in Friday’s second round. Sjodin jumped from a T50 into a T2 heading into the weekend at the event and needed only 29 putts to get through her round.

"Maybe not seeing the hole is a good thing," Sjodin joked during her post-round press conference.

Sjodin, who has been on Tour for XX years, gained a lot of attention for her impressive play at the Kraft Nabisco Championship where she recorded a career-best T4 finish. Sjodin entered the final round tied for the lead with Rolex Rankings No. 1 Yani Tseng and held a lead during the front nine but wasn’t able to hold on for her first career LPGA victory. Still, she said that she learned a lot from the experience.

"I learned my game probably belongs more in the A times than the B times for the better finishes," Sjodin said. "And I also think I handled it really well, I wasn't nervous. I started off playing really well that last round, even though I couldn't get anything going in the middle round portion of it, but I think I just feel really solid over the ball right now. I feel like I'm hitting it pretty straight and I can attack most pins or even off the tees, so it seems kind of simple at the moment."

So Yeon Ryu doesn’t hide the fact that she has a goal this season and that’s to be holding the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year trophy at the end of the year.

"My goal is Rookie of the Year because in KLPGA I lose my Rookie of the Year award," Ryu said. "So especially this year I really want to take Rookie of the Year. I knew lots of great rookie playing together, so I'm a little nervous, but I want to try and just enjoy the tournament."

Ryu currently leads the Rookie of the Year race with 283 points, nearly double the total of Lexi Thompson who is second on the list. Ryu, who began her rookie campaign tying for second at the ISPS Handa Australian Women’s Open in February, has a total of three top-5 finishes this year and is now just one shot off the lead heading into the weekend at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic.

The 2011 U.S. Women’s Open champion fired a 5-under 67 on Friday to move to 8-under-par, one shot behind leader Stacy Lewis. Ryu credited her strong play in part to her playing partners, Chella Choi and Na Yeon Choi, over the first two days of the event.

"I was really, really comfortable because you know my first language is Korean, so sometimes -- I mean, if I use English, my mind is a little busy," Ryu said. "But yesterday and today it was really comfortable. Especially my iron shot is really great. So this golf course is really tricky green and really big green and really tough putt, but I made a lot of birdie putts because I hit iron shot really perfect. So just five-foot birdie putt, 10-foot birdie putt is not tough putt. So I think really big key is iron shot and I want to try to feel like comfortable about the English too."

Sydnee Michaels might be an LPGA Tour rookie but this California native learned the ins-and-outs of the professional golf ranks via the Symetra Tour - The Road to the LPGA.

Michaels turned professional immediately after playing four years of collegiate golf at the University of California Los Angeles where she recorded two wins and was a two-time NGCA All-American Second Team selection (2008, 2010). During her 2011 Symetra Tour rookie season, Michaels notched victories at the Vidalia championship and the Price Chopper Tour Championship.

Michaels went on to finish fourth on the season ending Volvik Race for the Card standings to earn her LPGA Tour card for the 2012 season.

"Obviously I tried to get my card right after I finished school in 2010 and I didn't make it in final stage and I was devastated, but looking back I think it's the best thing that could have happened to me," said the laid-back Michaels. "Last year I learned how to travel, I learned how to play every week, I learned how to grind it out, and I think it's huge for preparing me for this year."

Michaels shot two consecutive rounds of 4-under par 68 and stands 1-stroke behind current leader Stacy Lewis. Playing in just her fourth LPGA tournament this season she is looking to improve on a career-best tied for 30th finish at the Kia Classic.

A total of 77 players made the cut which fell at even-par 144

With an impressive 26 courses on 11 different sites, the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

In 1992 Robert Trent Jones designed the first course on the golf trail and the tradition continues today with Jones’ protégé, Roger Rulewich.

To celebrate the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail’s 20th anniversary on the 20th day of each month in 2012, a round on the RTJ Golf Trail will cost a mere $20. In addition, on May 23rd a celebration will take place with Rulewich to celebrate the anniversary.

The LPGA has played a total of 18 tournaments on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Alabama including 13 in Mobile and five on the Senator Course in Prattville.

Everyone will have to wait until Saturday to determine which two players, who are not already qualified, will gain entry into the Sybase Match Play event in Gladstone, New Jersey on May 17-20. Karin Sjodin, So Yeon Ryu, Sydnee Michaels, and Lindsey Wright are all currently at 8-under par for the tournament and will use their third round score as a tie-breaker.

There were plenty of red numbers on the leaderboard during Friday’s second round of the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic. On a day that featured nearly perfect weather conditions, many players found a way to put together a low round. A total of 35 rounds were shot in the 60s on Friday and 64 players are under-par through two rounds of the event.

Defending champion Maria Hjorth shot 72 in Friday’s second round and now sits in a T56 at 1-under-par… Angela Oh and Na On Min withdrew from the tournament prior to Friday’s second round… Friday marked the one-year anniversary of the devastating tornadoes that struck Alabama and caused massive devastation. In remembrance of the anniversary, the flags flew at half-mast at the Mobile Bay LPGA Classic.

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