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Chella Choi shot a 4-under 67 in the second round Chella Choi shot a 4-under 67 in the second round Friday to lead at the halfway point of the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic in Sylvania.
Chella Choi shot a 4-under 67 in the second round Friday to lead at the halfway point of the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic in Sylvania.
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Published: Saturday, 8/11/2012 - Updated: 1 year ago

New field, same story

5 S. Koreans find place in top 6 after 2 rounds

BY STEVE JUNGA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Toledoan Jamie Farr traveled to fictional Korea to become famous as cross-dressing Cpl. Max Klinger on the hit television show M*A*S*H beginning in 1972.

When he was done with that tour of sitcom duty in 1983, Farr returned to his home soil and had his name attached to an LPGA golf tournament here a year later.

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With the 27th installment of the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic at its midway point, it has become increasingly clear that a healthy portion of Korea has pretty much followed the reverse path to bid for fame at Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania.

That's not fiction. It's fact.

Led by Se Ri Pak's five tourney titles here (1998, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2007), South Korean players have won eight of the last 13 Farr Classics. Midway through episode 27, the win total might balloon to nine by late Sunday afternoon.

Jessica Korda, the daughter of former pro tennis player Petr Korda, fired the day's low score with a 6-under 65 on Friday that put her five strokes off the lead at the midway point of the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic in Sylvania. Jessica Korda, the daughter of former pro tennis player Petr Korda, fired the day's low score with a 6-under 65 on Friday that put her five strokes off the lead at the midway point of the Jamie Farr Toledo Classic in Sylvania.
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The leaderboard includes five South Koreans among the top six players, a group headed by fourth-year LPGA regular Chella Choi (133), who fired a 4-under-par 67 on Friday to improve to 9-under through 36 holes. Other than bogeys on Nos. 10 and 11, Choi's only glitch of the day was a wardrobe problem she encountered just before then on the ninth green.

While placing her divot tool in her right pocket, she tore the seam on her shorts. Fortunately, because of the somewhat chilly morning temperatures, she was wearing leggings under her pink shorts.

"I played really good today, same as yesterday," Choi said. "I have a lot of confidence. Shot it really good today. I hit 16 greens and 12 fairways. So my shot was really good.

"I have two more days. I don't care [about the] other players. I just try [to] keep my score low."

Play begins today at 7:30 a.m., and the leaders in the final group tee off at 12:26 p.m.

Choi holds a slim one-shot lead over two of her countrywomen -- Inbee Park (69-65) and Hee Kyung Seo (68-66) -- as well as Japan's Mika Miyazato (66-68).

"Everything went well today," said Park, whose 65 included birdies at holes 2, 3, 11, 13, 15, and 16. "I hit the ball great. I was able to hole a lot of putts today. [Thursday] I left some putts out there. The greens were rolling a little bit better today. [Thursday] it was kind of bumpy."

"The beginning of the round was a little rough to me," said Seo, who followed her lone bogey at No. 2 with birdies at 3, 6, 7, 12, 13, and 18. "My driver was [off] right and left, so I had to find the feeling of the shot. The good thing was the ball was heading at the open areas, so I didn't have to make a tricky shot, or play from the rough.

"The good thing was I made a lot of birdie opportunities that I had. I only had 26 putts today and I think that's why I made a really good score."

Miyazato is the only interruption among the South Koreans in the top six. "On the back nine I started off with a three-putt bogey," Miyazato said. "That was not so good. I had 17 more holes and I tried to do my best. My first nine I was more patient, but back nine on the second shot I was more aggressive."

South Koreans Hee-Won Han (68-67) and So Yeon Ryu (67-68) stand in a group of four players who are two shots back at 7-under.

"Four birdies, no bogeys, I'm happy," Han said. "Hopefully the weather's getting good for the next two days. You have plenty of opportunities for birdies on this golf course that's why I want to just keep playing good and make lots of birdies."

Added Ryu: "The Jamie Farr has a lot of Korean winners, so I think the Koreans are a lot more comfortable at this course. This golf course is similar to Korean golf courses. The shape is pretty similar.

"Everybody helps each other a lot. I'm a rookie so I really don't know a lot about the LPGA system. The older Korean players have taught me and given me a lot of information."

Also at 7-under are Karine Icher (66-69) of France, and first-round Farr leader Pernilla Lindberg of Sweden, who followed her 7-under opening round with an even-par 71.

"I had a little trouble at the beginning," Icher said. "I made some stupid mistakes. The course was a little bit tougher today. I made some birdies, so that gave me some confidence to finish the round."

"It was pretty tough out there today," Lindberg said of her dropoff. "It was quite windy. I played really early [Thursday], so the greens were perfect. "You could tell today that there was 144 girls that stepped on them. The wind picked up a little at the end, which made it a little trickier on the tee shots."

The top American players in the field are Jacqui Concolino and Angela Stanford, who are among five players tied for ninth place at 6-under.

Seven of the top 13 players in the field are from South Korea.

Rounding out that group are Jiyai Shin and I.K. Kim, who join Spain's Beatriz Recari, Concolino, and Stanford at 6-under. The low round of the day was 65, shared by Park and American player Jessica Korda. Korda, the daughter of former tennis pro Petr Korda, winner of the 1998 Australian Open, bounced back for a 2-over-par 73 on Thursday to climb closer toward contending at 4-under at the midway point.

The LPGA's leading money winner, Toledo native Stacy Lewis (68-69) is four shots off the lead entering today's third round. "I really didn't play very good today," Lewis said. "I kind of struggled hitting the ball and didn't really give myself too many chances at birdies."

Lewis had a throng of family and friends following her round, a group which donned T-shirts that said, "Lew Crew."

"It's awesome," she said. "I was trying to give them something to cheer for today. I made some putts. The last couple years they've kind of grown in numbers and gotten more shirts every year. It's really cool to have them out here and I don't think anyone else has anything like it. So, it's pretty cool."

The cut after 36 holes was set at even par 142, sending 74 players to the final 36 holes today and Sunday.

LPGA notables who missed the cut include the second- and third-leading money leaders, respectively, for 2012 -- Ai Miyazato (71-73) and Yani Tseng (72-71) -- along with 2005 Farr Classic winner Heather Bowie-Young (75-75), and Michelle Wie (75-69), once considered one of the LPGA's brightest young stars.

Contact Steve Junga at: sjunga@theblade.com 419-724-6461, or on Twitter @JungaBlade.



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