Choi's late splurge gives her lead at Farr LPGA
SYLVANIA, Ohio—Even a wardrobe malfunction couldn't hold back Chella Choi.
The soon-to-be 22-year-old South Korean split a side seam on her pink shorts but still shot a 4-under 67 on Friday to take the second-round lead in the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic.
Choi shrugged off two bogeys to start the back nine, birdieing three holes coming down the stretch for a one-shot lead over Inbee Park, Mika Miyazato and Hee Kyung Seo.
About the only thing that didn't go Choi's way was when she jammed her divot-repair tool into her right front pocket at the ninth green, tearing a hole in the fabric. She was fortunate that she decided to go with leggings on a cool morning.
"I played really well today; same as yesterday," Choi said. "I hit 16 greens and 12 fairways, so my shots were really good."
Choi, without a win in her four years on the LPGA tour, started with a 66 and was at 9-under 133 at rainy Highland Meadows Golf Club.
She's clearly trying to not get ahead of herself.
"I have two more days," she said. "I don't care about the other players. I'll just try to keep my score low."
The leaderboard retained its international flair, but it's clear that -- like the LPGA Tour itself in recent years -- the South Koreans are taking over. They held five of the top eight spots at the tournament's midpoint.
Park, winner of the most recent tour event, the Evian Masters, matched the day's low round, climbing 29 spots on the leaderboard with a 6-under 65.
"Winning Evian, that gave me a lot of confidence playing this week," she said.
Only Yani Tseng, the world's top-ranked player, has won back-to-back LPGA tournaments this year.
"It is actually easy and tough at the same time because you have such confidence," Park said. "You feel a lot more comfortable on the golf course. If you're playing really good, that's a bonus."
Choi was 3 under through seven holes before bogeying Nos. 10 and 11. But she regrouped to birdie 13, 15 and 16 coming in.
"I like the shape of the golf course," said Choi, who tied for second at the Manulife tournament in Canada in late March.
Miyazato shot a 68, and Seo followed a 68 with a 66 to also get to 8 under.
After thunderstorms overnight and off-and-on rain throughout the round, Highland Meadows is relatively defenseless. But a gusting wind picked up as play continued.
"I like the windy conditions because I'm from Okinawa and it's always windy," said Miyazato, who was followed by a large Japanese media contingent.
Seo needed just 26 putts in her 66, which featured six birdies and one bogey.
She said the intermittent rain and cooler temperatures caused her some difficulty.
"I had to put my jacket on and off," she said. "It was hard to concentrate."
First-round leader Pernilla Lindberg (71), Hee-Won Han (67), Karine Icher (69) and So Yeon Ryu (68) were 7 under.
It wasn't nerves that cost Lindberg her two-shot lead.
"I actually slept really good," the Swede said. "I handled the situation better than I would have a while ago. I've been playing good in Europe lately, been up there in the lead a few times. I feel more and more comfortable every time I'm there."
Icher, winless in a decade playing LPGA events, is hoping to stay patient.
"I've been many times in this position in my career and never won," she said. "I'll just take it easy and try to play my best golf I can and we'll see."
Defending champion Na Yeon Choi (no relation to Chella) shot a 71 and was at 141. She won the 2010 Farr. The event wasn't played last year while the city hosted the men's U.S. Senior Open.
Jennifer Rosales had a hole-in-one with a 4-iron on the 179-yard 14th. But with a 75, she still missed the cut of even-par 142.
Among those missing the weekend were Tseng, 2005 Farr winner Heather Bowie Young and Michelle Wie.
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