Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Pressel leads LPGA Championship

PITTSFORD, N.Y. — Morgan Pressel slogged through rain and muck to take the lead Saturday after two rounds in the LPGA Championship. Next up is a 36-hole marathon today.

"I run a lot," Pressel, 25, said, laughing. "I'm in plenty good of enough shape to get through 36 holes" today.

She shot 2-under 70 Saturday at Locust Hill to reach 6-under 138, two shots ahead of top-ranked Inbee Park and Chella Choi in the tour's second major of the season.

Park had 68 to give herself an opportunity to add to her three wins this season, including the Kraft Nabisco Championship in April. Choi struggled with 73 to relinquish her first-round lead.

Jiyai Shin, Amy Yang and Sarah Jane Smith were tied for fourth at 3 under. Seven more were at 1 under or better, which should make for a long and topsy-turvy final day.

The change in schedule came after nearly 5 inches of rain fell Thursday, forcing officials to postpone the first round.

"It's going to be very tough physically, I mean, especially walking on these wet fairways," Park said. "There's going to be many holes, but yeah, just try not to lose my focus."

The forecast for today is promising, calling for sunny conditions and temperatures in the high 70s.

A light and intermittent drizzle fell most of Saturday morning, further drenching the 6,500-yard course. Then there were two brief but heavy downpours in the midafternoon before the rain finally relented after about 2:30 p.m.

That led to sloppy fairways. It made the slick, overgrown rough even more difficult to hit out of. And even hitting the greens didn't guarantee relief.

Pressel's tee shot on the par-3 seventh plugged 20 feet below the hole, from where she two-putted. That was actually fine with her. With a laugh, she was thankful the ball stuck where it did because it was a better place than above the hole.

Pressel is attempting to end a string of eight majors won by Asian-born players. She hasn't won herself since claiming the Kapalua LPGA Classic in 2008.

Seminole's Brittany Lincicome (73) slipped to 2-under 142, and Tampa's Kristy McPherson (72) was at 1-over 145. Tampa's Cindy LaCrosse (78) missed the cut at 14-over 158.

PGA: Rookie Shawn Stefani overcame quadruple bogey and shot 4-under 66 to take the third-round lead at the St. Jude Classic in Memphis.

The 31-year-old Texan blew a two-stroke lead with the quadruple bogey on No. 11 but rebounded with four birdies over his final five holes to move back atop the leaderboard. He had eight birdies to go with that quadruple bogey to reach 12-under 198 at TPC Southwind.

"I feel like I hit one bad shot on 11, and that was the putt that I missed for a triple," Stefani said, showing off his sense of humor. "I know that sounds crazy, but you know I hit the club that I wanted to hit. Unfortunately, was the wrong club at the wrong time."

Harris English was a stroke back after 69 and is out of the lead for the first time this week.

CHAMPIONS: David Frost birdied the 16th and 17th holes en route to 6-under 66 and a one-stroke lead over Fred Couples after the third round of the Regions Tradition in Birmingham, Ala. Frost had four birdies on the final eight holes to move to 12-under 205 in the major championship.

"It will be a great final day," Couples said. "There's a lot of guys. It's the kind of course where someone can shoot 7 under and go from 7 or 8 under to 14 under."