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Kim on form heading into weekend in lead
August 29, 2014

A year after finishing seventh on the money list, I.K. Kim came into the Portland Classic Presented by Cambia Health Solutions struggling at 77th on the money list. She’s done anything but struggle this week thus far, firing a 5-under-67 on Friday to climb to 12-under-par for the tournament and take a three-stroke lead into the weekend.

Kim, a three-time Tour winner, hasn’t taken a 36-hole lead into the weekend since the 2011 Honda LPGA Thailand. Although Kim’s best finish on the LPGA Tour this season is a T13, she did win the Ladies European Masters on the LET by five shots in early July and is looking for her first win on the LPGA Tour since the 2010 Lorena Ochoa Invitational.

“It’s only Friday. I’m really pleased how I played the last two days, and the weekend, I’m really looking forward to it,” Kim said. “I don’t really think about leading. You never know until the last day on Sunday, last back nine.”

Chasing her on the weekend will be Carlota Ciganda of Spain and Mi Jung Hur of Korea who both tied the low round of the tournament with 7-under 65’s on Friday. They’re tied for second at 9-under par with Laura Diaz (68) and three shots back.

So Yeon Ryu, No. 5 in the Rolex World Rankings, is looking for back-to-back victories after climbing to within four shots of her good friend Kim following a 6-under 66. Kim and Ryu will see each other before Saturday’s third round, though.

“Today, we are planning to have dinner together,” Ryu said.

Added Kim: “I think we’re going to go to the Nike store first and see what’s happening.”

Defending champion and Rolex Rankings No. 4 Suzann Pettersen turned things around on Friday and followed up her first-round 71 with a 5-under 67 effort and sits six shots off the lead in a tie for ninth. Local amateur qualifier Gigi Stoll birdied the 18th hole to make the cut by one shot (+1) and will play the weekend at an LPGA event for the first time.

Jeong Jang and Hee Won Han, who both announced they were retiring from the Tour after the Portland Classic both made the cut and will play the weekend in their final events. Jang (70-71) is in a tie for 33rd at 3-under par while Han made the cut on the number with a 71 on Friday and is 1-over par.

Comfortable setting: Mi Jung Hur’s only LPGA victory came during her rookie season six years ago in 2009 at the Safeway Classic, the first year the event was held at Pumpkin Ridge. Ask her how much she likes returning to the town where she accomplished her biggest feat on Tour, Hur can’t help but break into an ear-to-ear grin. Not only does she love the pristine golf courses and beautiful weather but most importantly the shopping and people she has met along the way.

“I’m so comfortable with this town, especially I love the shopping in Oregon,” said Hur. “There’s no sales tax. I love it. And my American parents I just talked to about it, I met them maybe ‘05, back to ‘05 in Pumpkin Ridge. I played the U. S. women’s amateur. And I met them.”

Hur still keeps in contact with Portland residents who she met when she played in the U.S. Women’s Amateur at Pumpkin Ridge and refers to them as her “American parents.” She’d love to cash a winner’s check this week to offset the $600 tab she ran up at the Adidas store in her three visits this week.

Her round of 65 on Friday marked her low round of the season and put herself in good position to improve on her best finish of the year, a T19 in Arkansas. She said she read So Yeon Ryu’s interview from last week in Canada and took her strategy of concentrating on one shot at a time.

“Like today I tried to focus on my each shot. Like if you’re on the teeing ground, just try to focus on driver and then if you go to fairway, try to focus on the iron shot like this. Because I read the interview from So Yeon Ryu from last week. She did like that. You know, when I won this tournament back on ‘09, that’s what I did at the time,” said Hur. “Shot by shot. And then like today I just did it. So that’s why I had a good round today.”

Show my name! For four years, Laura Diaz watched leaderboard after leaderboard that never showed her name.

That is until the Marathon Classic six weeks ago, where her name hung at the top of the leaderboard throughout the first three rounds. A final-round 75 ultimately left her eight back of Lydia Ko and in a tie for 18th.

She’ll have a chance to remedy that disappointing finish here in Portland on the weekend after a second-round 68 has her in a tie for second at 9-under-par. The 39-year-old has played 36 holes at Columbia Edgewater Country Club without a bogey to her card.

“”I mean you know, you prepare as much as you can prepare, but I think that I’ve been away for a long time from that position, and it was definitely a learning and growing experience,” Diaz said. “I learned a lot from that week. It wasn’t the result that I wanted obviously, but I’m staying patient and just trying to stay in the moment and not get ahead of myself at all.”

Although Diaz had won twice on Tour and played in the Solheim Cup four times, the nerves have never left her when she’s in contention on the golf course, which she realized again in Toledo. She’s still learning how to cope again but is trying to embrace those feelings this week.

“I think that’s one of the things that I learned from Maraton, to embrace those and go with it and accept it,” Diaz said. “And actually, you know, really like it.”

Dealing with the win: It had been over two years since So Yeon Ryu had won on the LPGA before she picked up her third win last week at the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open and the third-year member said she forgot how much extra comes with the gift of winning.

“You know, I haven’t win any tournament before last week, so I had to do a lot of things after I made a win,” said Ryu. “I had to do a lot of interviews and that kind of stuff, and my mind was still, it wasn’t really quiet. I still was excited, so I wasn’t really 100 percent focused again yesterday. But today I totally tune out that and it feels really great. So I look forward to another win this week.”

Ryu said she got a hold of the adrenaline that comes with the thrill of victory finally on Friday and has now put her focus not only on winning back-to-back events but is looking forward to achieving some other goals she has set to finish out the 2014 season. She’d be the first player to win in consecutive weeks since Suzann Pettersen won here in Portland last season and followed it up with her second major victory at the Evian Championship.

“My goal is actually make another win, and the biggest one is I want to win a major tournament, which is Evian Championship,” said Ryu. “My other goal is win the Hana KB Championship, which my sponsor hosts a tournament and that’s the only one LPGA event in Korea.”

Better position: Defending champion Suzann Pettersen put herself in better position for a weekend charge after her 5-under par effort on Friday. Pettersen shot 1-under 71 in the first round on Thursday and said she wasn’t sure if it was fatigue setting in that has made her feel off her game this week.

“I haven’t played my best the last two days,” said Pettersen. “Really happy to be able to shoot 5-under on the back 9 to put myself somewhere close in the mid pack of the field. Played better on the back 9. But I don’t know if it’s just the fourth week that I’m tired, but grinding it out. I’m finding solutions out there.”

Pettersen was even-par through the first nine holes on Friday but made a back-nine charge with five birdies in her last seven holes, including four in a row on Nos. 5-8.

“I birdied, I think, five out of the last seven holes I played,” said Pettersen. “So if you give yourself a good look from the fairways and your putter is hot, you can make a lot of putts. The greens are great.”

Cheers to the weekend: A total of 78 players made the cut which fell at 1-over-par 145.

Social scene: Morgan Pressel met with members of the Burlington Edison (Wash.) High School Girls Golf Team after her round and accepted a $1,500 check on behalf of good friend Cristie Kerr’s charity, Birdies for Breast Cancer. The team made the same donation in 2007 and presented the check to Kerr at the event seven years ago. The four-player squad and head coach Greg Knutzen drove the four-hour trek down from Washington on Friday to present the check to Pressel who is heavily involved in raising funds and awareness for the same cause.

“How awesome! The Burlington Edison Girls Golf Team raised $1,500 for #birdiesforbreastcancer!! Way to go girls! @cristiekerr #thankyou #makingadifference #goodluck” -@mpressel

Last week’s winner So Yeon Ryu tweeted a picture of a special letter she received in her locker on Friday. All-time great Arnold Palmer sent his congratulations to Ryu on her third-career LPGA Tour victory.

“I received letter from @Arnold_Palmer Whoop whoop happy girl :) #legend
#honor” -1soyeonryu

Tiffany Joh shared a picture on Twitter with her personal fan club from of all places...Boise, Idaho.

“Oh yeah, I’m huge in Boise. LOL” -@tiffjoh

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