Seven share lead at Wegmans LPGA

The South Korean flag was flying high at the Wegmans LPGA, with five of that nation's golfers among the seven sharing the lead in tournament.

updated: June 26, 2008 16:04 IST
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The South Korean flag was flying high at the Wegmans LPGA, with five of that nation's golfers among the seven sharing the lead in the two million-dollar tournament.

Jeong Jang, Jimin Jeong, Soo-Yun Kang, Song-Hee Kim and Inbee Park were joined on four-under 68 by Japan's Ai Miyazato and American Cristie Kerr.

South Koreans Young-A Yang, Kyeong Bae, Hee-Won Han and Na On Min were a one shot back in another group of seven that also included Helen Alfredsson of Sweden, Morgan Pressel and Becky Lucidi.

Defending champion Lorena Ochoa was bunched with 19 others in 36th place on even-par 72.

Jang, who won this tournament in 2006, had an eagle on the par-four 12th and birdies at four and 17.

"I like the tight course and I love the small, fast greens," Jang said. "I have a lot of good memories about this golf course. I just like to play here."

Jeong, Kim, Park and Miyazato each carded four birdies while Kang had a roller-coaster of a round.

She had five birdies and three bogeys and a hole-in-one on the par-three seventh.

"The hole-in-one was very exciting," Kang said of her ace from 171 yards. "I was jumping up and down, my mom was screaming, everyone screamed. It was great."

Kerr, who won the 2007 US Women's Open and has 10 victories in her 12-year career, birdied the sixth and added three more birdies after the turn at Locust Hill.

"I played actually pretty good," Kerr said. "I had a little bit of the case of the rights off the tee, but my short game was great today. The greens are very soft, but I thought I played pretty good, pretty smart out there."

Asked why so many international players from the Pacific Rim are at the top of the leaderboard and are doing so well on the LPGA Tour, Kerr said it started with Se Ri Pak just over a decade ago.

"Everyone saw how much success Se Ri had and how quickly she was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame at such an early age," Kerr said. "Golf just became very, very popular over there.

"The Koreans are very passionate people. They definitely have their own traditions and their own culture and golf seems to be one of them."

Miyazato posted her round early, and had a good chance to go a shot lower but for a missed three-foot birdie try at the ninth.

"I hit it too hard and tried to hole it instead of concentrating on my stroke," she said. "Just tried to hard to hole it.

However, she was happy with her performance overall.

"I really played with good rhythm today, and I got it into birdie range on a lot of the holes and I was able to stay in my own world when I was out there playing," she said.

World No. 1 Ochoa, who is trying to notch her third successful title defense of the year, double-bogeyed 13, but birdied three of her last five holes to break even for the round.

"It was a tough day for sure," Ochoa said. "I struggled a little with my putting. I just had a bad day on the greens. However, I am even par and still in contention. I will go have a nice afternoon and get ready for (Friday)."