Saturday, November 14, 2015

Minjee Lee leads down Mexico way 

Australian Minjee Lee jumped out to a hot start early with birdies on four of the first six and never looked back on her way to the 36-hole lead at the Lorena Ochoa Invitational Presented by Banamex and JTBC. Lee’s second consecutive 3-under-par 69 gave her a one-shot lead heading into the weekend - the first time she’s ever had to sleep on the 36-hole lead.
“I just holed a couple 12-15 footers and on the par fives, I was kind of close,” Lee said.
Lee leads a quartet of players at 5-under-par - Christina Kim, Sei Young Kim, Angela Stanford and Inbee Park - by one shot and says her approach won’t change with the lead in hand.
“The same, there’s nothing different I’m going to do on the golf course,” Lee said. “I’m going to stick to my golf and take it one shot at a time. I’m not feeling much different.”
Defending champion Christina Kim and 2015 Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year Sei Young Kim both went out in the early groups after first-round 73s but shot their way back into contention with a pair of 6-under-par 66s - the best rounds of the championship so far. Christina said her lucky charm was Lorena Ochoa, who came out to watch her play the 12th and 13th holes, both of which she birdied.
“I just needed to go back to what I was doing last year, just enjoying it,” Christina said. “What Lorena did, it was so cool cause she came to watch me on holes 12 and 13, and the kids, the brother and the father, and I birdied the holes that they came to watch me so it was really awesome.
"It’s just everything about this place, the people, the culture, the food. There’s nothing negative you could really say about this tournament. It’s just wonderful.”
Park entered the day with a one-shot lead but didn’t show her best stuff, hitting only 11 greens in a 1-under-par 71 effort.
“Not a great ball striking day today, but I still feel really good about the putter,” Park said. “Just a few bad shots, too many bogeys. I made an eagle and a few birdies but still too many mistakes.”
In this 36-player field, there are 10 players within three shots of the lead and 15 players within five shots of the lead entering the weekend.
Christina Kim may be a Bay Area native, but she’s feeling at home this week in Mexico City. Certain golf courses just fit a player’s eye and Club de Golf Mexico certainly fits hers.
“Everything. I love the fact that there are tight fairways and you’ve got old trees that show there is a lot of history to this course,” Kim said.
 “A lot of difficult greens with high heights which I personally love. I love being able to use my imagination and I like the idea of having to play shots. This course reminds me of a lot of courses I grew up playing in California. There’s no humidity here so that helps me a lot that I’m not sweating.”
Kim also feels comfortable in the position she’s in, playing from behind rather than with the lead. She had to play with the lead wire to wire a year ago and admitted that it’s a different feeling.
“I think chasing is a little terrifying,” she said. “Last year was my first wire-to-wire victory and I couldn’t sleep the Sunday after I won for a number of reasons, one of them was that I was just like ‘Holy crap, you are the one that everyone wants to go after and that’s scary.
"But, you know, just having the opportunity to be close to the leaderboard is awesome, and whatever ends up happening over the weekend, I’ll take it on and just remember how lucky I am to be here.”
It sounds strange to say but after her win at the Blue Bay LPGA, Sei Young Kim started working on a swing change with her coach. It took only 18 holes for her to throw it out. She got to the range in the morning and went back to her old swing, which seemingly worked a little better considering she shot the round of the tournament - a 6-under-par 66 Friday to vault her way back into contention.
“Today I really adjusted my swing in the morning,” Kim said. “It worked. I had a lot of birdie chances, and so it was a good day.”
“I really fixed my swing with my coach but it wasn’t really working in the first round so I came back to my old swing.”
Kim found her old swing just in time as she’ll need a win this week to vault into the top three for the Race to the CME Globe standings heading into the CME Group Tour Championship, which would guarantee that a win at the season’s final stop and she’ll also win the $1 million prize at the end of the race.
“Oh yeah, this is my last opportunity,” Kim said. “So, if I can, I hope I win this week and I will try my best. I will try to play very well.”
Par 144 (2x72)
. Minjee Lee 69  69   . 138
Inbee Park 68 71 139
Angela Stanford 69 70 139
Christina Kim 73 66 139
Sei-Young Kim 73 66 139
Sakura Yokomine 72 70 142
Suzann Pettersen 69 71 140
Cristie Kerr 74 69 143
So Yeon Ryu 71 70 141
Pernilla Lindberg 71 70 145
Carlota Ciganda 72 69 141
Jaye Marie Green 71 70 141
Pornanong Phatlum 72 71 143
Gerina Piller 73 70 143
Caroline Masson 73 71 144
Brittany Lincicome 72 73 145
Jennifer Song 72 73 145
Mariajo Uribe 71 73 144
Chella Choi 73 71 144
Lizette Salas 73 70 143
Sydnee Michaels 71 77 149
Brittany Lang 74 72 146
Gaby Lopez 71 74 145
Karine Icher 75 70 145
Hee Young Park 73 71 144
Lexi Thompson 73 74 147
Na Yeon Choi 78 70 148
Azahara Munoz 71 75 146
Austin Ernst 73 76 149
Jane Park 73 73 146
Julieta Granada 75 74 149
Alena Sharp 76 73 149
Margarita Ramos 75 73 148
Candy Hannemann 81 75 156
Alejandra Llaneza 79 76    155
Q Baek 80 74 154