GUADALAJARA, Mexico – Jiyai Shin took a big step toward adding the LPGA Player of the Year award to her top rookie trophy, shooting a 6-under 66 on Friday for a three-stroke lead in the Lorena Ochoa Invitational.
The 21-year-old South Korean star, a three-time winner this year who has a four-point lead over Ochoa in the Player of the Year race, had an 11-under 133 total on the Guadalajara Country Club course.
“I don’t know much (about) this course, so I try to just play safe,” Shin said. “Like just the middle of the fairway, just the middle of the green and make it a very simple game. … I have found my tempo – great tempo. So I have a really good feeling.”
Michelle Wie (66) and Paula Creamer (69) were tied for second, and first-round leader Song-Hee Kim (72) was four strokes back at 7 under. Suzann Pettersen (67), Brittany Lincicome (70), Cristie Kerr (70), Brittany Lang (70) and Mariajo Uribe (72) were 5 under.
Ochoa was 4 under after a 69 on her home course.
“I’m OK,” Ochoa said. “It was a better round today, but I’m still a little behind. I hope the weekend will be better.”
If Shin wins this week she’ll wrap up the Player of the Year award if Ochoa fails to finish at least seventh. If not, the title will be decided next week in Houston in the season-ending LPGA Tour Championship. Nancy Lopez is the only player to win both the rookie and player awards in the same season, accomplishing the feat in 1978.
“I’m just focusing on the game this week and not thinking about that at the moment,” said Shin, who took the outright lead with a birdie at 13 and added birdies on 14 and 15 to get to 11 under.
Shin also leads the money list with $1,709,168. Ai Miyazato, 10 strokes back after a 72, is second with $1,468,679.
Wie, winless on the LPGA, eagled the 10th to reach 6 under. She hit two 3-woods and made a 5-foot putt. She added three birdies after that, though she dropped a shot on 17 when she missed a 4-foot putt.
“I do feel really close,” said Wie, who has two second-place finishes this year. “I feel like I need to shoot a lot lower and play a lot better over the weekend. But if everything works out, hopefully it will be the week.”
Her only nagging problem is a sprained left ankle that forced her to wear a large, black brace that extends 6 inches above her shoe top.
Asked if it was hurting her game, she replied: “I don’t know. I don’t want to think about it.”
Creamer has eight career wins, but she’s been shut out this season and also is nursing injuries and illness.
She’s been fighting off-and-on stomach problems since playing in the event a year ago. She’s lost up to 15 pounds in a few stretches, she said. The illness has popped up after tournaments around the world – and in the United States, too. Hoping to beat it, she’s carrying her own food with her.
She reached 8 under with a birdie on No. 6, and stayed there for much of the round. She dropped a shot on 14, but recovered with a birdie on 17 – chipping in from the fringe – and finished saving par with 5-footer on 18.
“I’ve been hitting the ball really well,” Creamer said. “I haven’t quite gained all my distance back off the tee, but it’s starting to come back with my irons, and it shows.”