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Choi Jumps into Lead at Women's British Open; Park Now Eight Back
South Korean Na Yeon Choi carded her second straight 5-under 67 to take the halfway lead in the Women's British Open. The LPGA's fourth major of the year is taking place on the Old Course at St. Andrews.
Despite blustery conditions at the "Home of Golf," the 25-year-old from Seoul carded six birdies and only one dropped shot en route to reaching a 36-hole total of 10-under 134, a stroke ahead of Japan's Miki Saiki. Saiki recorded Friday's low round - a 6-under 66, that also set a new Old Course record for the championship.
The weather was so demanding that Choi couldn't even recall her birdies when asked to describe them. "Five hours out there, this kind of weather, it's hard to remember," she responded.
American Morgan Pressel, who began Friday tied for the lead with Sweden's Camilla Lennarth, shot a 70 and is alone in third at 136. The 25-year-old Floridian, who played in the morning, was steady throughout the day, posting 16 pars and two birdies.
"I don't know where it will end up at the end of the day, but I'm going to go back and take a nap while everybody else plays in the wind," said a tired Pressel, a two-time LPGA winner whose first title came in 2007 in a major, the Kraft Nabisco Championship. "I've played well for two days."
Sharing fourth at 137 are Norway's Suzann Pettersen (67), South Korean Jee Young Lee (67) and American Nicole Castrale, who followed up her opening 67 with a 70.
Sweden's Mikaela Parmlid had her second consecutive 69 and is in solo seventh at 138, while another shot back are Americans Stacy Lewis (72) and Angela Stanford (70), South Koreans Hee Young Park (69) and So Yeon Ryu (70), and Japan's Mamiko Higa (69).
Because of the adverse weather, Lewis knows what it's going to take to succeed this week. "The tough, gritty players can win this," said the two-time winner this year. "Anybody under par is not out of this."
Six strokes back are China's Xi Yu Lin (68), South Koreans Meena Lee (69) and Jenny Shin (71), and Americans Paula Creamer (72), Dori Carter (72), Lizette Salas (72) and Ryann O'Toole (73). Tied for 20th at 141 are South Africa's Lee-Anne Pace (71) and Sweden's Pernilla Lindberg (73).
No. 1-ranked Inbee Park began with a promising 69 that left her only three strokes off the pace at the start of the second round. But the 25-year-old, who's seeking to become the first player - male or female - in history to win four professional majors in the same season, never got untracked Friday, carding a 1-over 73 that dropped her into a tie for 22nd with seven others at 2-under 142.
Park, who's already tied Babe Didrikson Zaharias's 1950 all-time record of three straight major victories at the start of the year and has six triumphs this season, carded three birdies, but those were offset by four dropped shots, including a bogey on the opening hole when a backing wind swept her approach well over the green and she couldn't get up and down for par.
"When you experience something big like this, some kind of big pressure like this, you're just really not afraid of any kind of pressure," Park said of her chance to make history. "How can it get bigger than this? Anything is going to be less than this."
She later told reporters, "Well, this is pretty much the only week I'm going to get that much (attention), so I should enjoy this moment. I'm trying to enjoy every moment that I'm here."
The cut was set at 1-over 145. Among those making it to the weekend are Americans Michelle Wie, with rounds of 74 and 70, and Cristie Kerr, who's recorded a 71 and 74. Defending champion Jiyai Shin also continues after posting a 72 Friday to reach 1-under 143, the same number as Americans Gerina Piller, Jessica Korda, Natalie Gulbis and Brittany Lincicome.
After a spotless six-birdie outing on Thursday, the Stockholm-born Lennarth, a former two-time All-American at the University of Alabama, had a rugged day, carding seven bogeys, a quadruple-bogey on the famed "Road Hole" - the 17th - and a lone birdie for an 82. She finished at 4-over 148 and didn't make the cut.
Also heading home is erstwhile No. 1, Yani Tseng. The 24-year-old from Taiwan, whose last win came in March 2012, had rounds of 72 and 74 to miss out on the weekend by a stroke.
England's Laura Davies, who won the Women's British Open in 1986 when it was a major on the Ladies European Tour, posted a 76 to end up at 148.
For all the scores, visit www.lpga.com.
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