Pak, Pettersen ahead at State Farm
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Hall of Famer Se Ri Pak maintained a share of the State Farm Classic lead with another bogey-free performance, while Sweden’s Helen Alfredsson shot into contention with a spectacular second round Friday.
Winless the past two years and seeking her first top-10 finish in 10 starts this season, Pak seems to be rediscovering her stroke just in time for the LPGA Championship next week at Bulle Rock in Maryland.
The first-round co-leader, Pak shot a 4-under 68 on Friday. That left her at 10-under 134 and tied with Suzann Pettersen (66), who began the day two strokes off the lead but nearly withdrew before teeing off because of a sore throat.
Alfredsson made a big move, firing a 63 to join Kristy McPherson (66), first-round co-leader Jee Young Lee (69), Kris Tamulis (68) and Moira Dunn (66) at 9 under.
Jiyai Shin (67) was 8 under, Juli Inkster (65) was in a crowd at 7 under, and Michelle Wie (68) and Cristie Kerr (69) topped a group at 6 under.
Alfredsson, the 2007 European Solheim Cup captain and 1993 Nabisco Dinah Shore winner, had one of her best rounds ever after a mediocre opener to jump into contention for her eighth LPGA Tour win. And if she had anything to say to her ball, it was probably just a simple “thank you” or “good job.”
Known to yell at it when shots go astray, the 44-year-old Swede had no reason to complain after turning in the second-lowest round of her career. Her stroke was as good as the weather on a clear 78-degree day, producing seven birdies and an eagle with no bogeys.
“I think sometimes you just see the line,” Alfredsson said. “It comes easy to you when you look at it. When you do, you can strike the ball well.”
She started on the 10th hole and began assaulting the course on No. 13 when she birdied the par-5 hole — the first of three in a row. She then eagled No. 16, when she knocked a 6-iron to five feet to go 5 under and continued her charge toward the top.
Was it her best round?
That would be the career-low 62 she shot in the opening round of the Sybase Classic at Upper Montclair three weeks ago before stumbling to a 76 the second day.
“It was one of those things, like if you sit at home, you say, ‘I would like to do this, this and that,’ ” Alfredsson said. “That’s what happened. This was not as solid.”
But she’ll certainly take it.
The same goes for Pak, who’s back in familiar territory and challenging for her first win since the 2007 Jamie Farr Classic. She hasn’t spent much time in the lead recently, but her 25th LPGA Tour victory is in reach after a two-round stretch she jokingly called her best in “maybe thousands, thousands (of) years.”
It seemed that way, at least. But the last two days?
“She played like a Hall of Famer the last two days,” said McPherson, who was in her group.
Which the 31-year-old Pak is. She also has struggled since becoming one two years ago.
She couldn’t really say, but Alfredsson offered a theory.
“She’s so young,” Alfredsson said. “When you really have one big goal, which that is, what do you do after that pretty much? I think she went back and she couldn’t find motivation, which absolutely is so understandable.”