It’s been four years since Morgan Pressel last won an LPGA Tour event and much has changed for the 25-year-old since then. She’s battled injuries on the course and got married off of it.
After a strong performance through the first two rounds, Pressel is atop the leaderboard at the Wegmans LPGA Championship. The Boca Raton, Fla. native shot a 2-under par 72 on Saturday to take the lead from round one leader Chella Choi. It’s the first time Pressel held the lead after 36 holes since coming to Locust Hill in 2008.
“I love this golf course,” Pressel said. “I’ve always enjoyed coming here, coming to Rochester. I stay with a great host family. And I’m just comfortable here, and this golf course certainly plays to my game, and as long as I can keep getting the putts to go in, I think I’ll have a good finish.”
The American was in second place after Friday’s first round at 4-under and dropped her overall score to 6-under after the second round.
Choi and fellow South Korean Inbee Park finished tied for second place at 4-under; Sarah Jane Smith, Amy Yang and Jiyai Shin are tied for fourth at 3-under; and Sun Young Yoo, Na Yeon Choi, Catriona Matthew, Angela Stanford and Brittany Lincicome are tied for seventh at 2-under.
Rain continued to fall on the course for part of the round Saturday. The tournament’s first round of play was pushed back from Thursday to Friday due to the constant rain.
Pressel started her day off strong, birdieing three of the first six holes on the back nine. She said the birdie on 11 got her going.
“The putt I had on the first hole was right in the hole, but about a foot short,” Pressel said. “So then to hit it a little bit closer on the next hole and get the birdie ... [then] I made four consecutive 10-footers on the next four holes that were huge.”
Her score rose back up after bogeys on 16 and 18. The front nine went smoothly for Pressel, as she birdied the eighth hole and made par on the other eight holes. She only has two LPGA Tour wins in her career with the last one being the Kapalua LPGA Classic in 2008.
Chella Choi led going into Saturday after finishing the first round at 5-under. She finished the back nine at one-under with birdies on 11 and 16 and bogeyed the first and sixth holes to finish at 73. Choi was tied for the lead when she left the course Saturday, but Pressel pulled in front on the back nine.
“I hit 14 fairways yesterday, but today was just 11,” Choi said. “My shot is (better) than yesterday, but I missed a couple of birdie putts just inside five yards. So (I’m) a little bit disappointed.”
Page 2 of 2 - Entering the second round, Park was tied for 16th at even par. She tied Michelle Wie for the best round on Saturday with a 68. Park, the top-ranked player in the Rolex Rankings, posted birdies on one, four, 10, 12 and 18, while getting a bogey on 14.
“I hit the ball great today,” Park said. “I only missed like two fairways and three greens and it wasn’t really in the long stuff today, so that was a big help.”
Sarah Jane Smith also improved her play in the second round. After carding a 72 on Friday, Smith birdied four holes to finish with a 69 on Saturday.
After shooting a 76 on Friday, Michelle Wie moved back into the hunt with a strong round. The 23-year-old birdied the first, fifth, eighth, 10th and 11th holes. Wie is tied for 14th with 2012 Wegmans LPGA winner Shanshan Feng and Pittsford resident Danah Bordner at even par.
The field was cut down to the top 70 scores after the second round. Golfers are scheduled to play 36 holes on Sunday with golfers teeing off between 6:30 and 8:30 a.m. The fourth and final round is projected to start between noon and 2 p.m.
“I think it’s going to be much more of a mental test than it is a physically walking test,” Pressel said. “I run a lot. I’m in plenty good of enough shape to get through 36 holes from that standpoint. The question will be just how committed I can be to every shot.”