KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Sweden’s Maria Hjorth shot her second straight 3-under 68 in steamy conditions Saturday for a share of the second-round lead with South Korea’s Jee Young Lee in the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia.
Lee followed her opening 66 with a 70 to match Hjorth at 6-under on the short Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club course in the event that was delayed again because of lightning, this time for 2 hours, 28 minutes.
“It’s always hard when it’s such a long delay, especially when the temperature is so warm outside and you kind of sit inside and you get cool,” Hjorth said. “It’s easy to get a little bit stiff and tired when you’re sitting in there. So you really have to make sure that when you start again to really be clear and be focused.”
South Korea’s Song-Hee Kim (68) was a stroke back, and Hall of Famer Juli Inskter (67), at 50 trying to become the oldest winner in LPGA Tour history, was 4 under along with Natalie Gulbis (68) and Mika Miyazato (72).
“I love this golf course,” said Gulbis, seeking her second LPGA Tour victory. “This is a golf course that suits my eye real well. I’m an aggressive putter, so these greens suit my game well. … The greens have a lot of grain on them, and they’re not necessarily slow, but there is a lot of grain. And when you have grainy greens, you can hit really solid, good putts. The grain doesn’t affect it as much. If you don’t hit them as hard, the grain can take it off line pretty quickly.”
The American praised the organizers of the inaugural event.
“One of my favorite things about traveling and playing on tour is being able to travel to different countries and also learn about different cultures, and they’ve really done a great job this week of introducing us to different cultures,” she said.
Michelle Wie was six strokes behind at even par after rounds of 68 and 74.
Hjorth switched putters this week after missing cuts in five of her last six events going back to a model with a longer shaft.
“I just putted really bad before, so I decided this week to go back to my old putter again, and it’s been working really well,” said Hjorth, the long-hitter who won the last of her three LPGA Tour titles in 2007.
Lee, who won an LPGA Tour event in South Korea in 2005 before becoming a tour member, admitted that she was nervous.
“I’ll try to call my mom and talk about tomorrow and just relax,” she said.
Former Wake Forest player Jean Chua topped the five Malaysians in the field, shooting a 68 to reach 2 under. She holed out from 84 yards for an eagle on No. 13.
Top-ranked Ai Miyazato was 4 over after rounds of 76 and 70.