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Jiyai Shin gets on birdie bus at Kia Classic

South Korean takes the lead with a 64 at Industry Hills. Michelle Wie falls off the pace.

March 25, 2011|By Diane Pucin
  • Jiyai Shin hits her approach shot on the 12th hole during the second round of the Kia Classic at the Industry Hills Golf Club on Friday.
Jiyai Shin hits her approach shot on the 12th hole during the second round… (Scott Halleran / Getty Images )

Jiyai Shin sat in a chair in a hotel meeting room swinging her legs because her feet didn't touch the floor.

Shin, a 22-year-old from South Korea, is only 5 feet 1 but her compact golf swing packs a punch and on Friday her nine-under-par score of 64 was the best, by four shots, of anybody who finished the second round of the LPGA's Kia Classic at the Industry Hills Golf Club at Pacific Palms.

With a two-day total of 12-under 134, Shin will take a four-shot lead into Saturday's play. Because of a three-hour rain delay Friday morning, 72 players were left with unfinished second rounds when play was called at 7:03 p.m. including Germany's Sandra Gal, who is second, four shots behind Shin. Gal finished nine holes of her second round at two-under.

First-round leader Amanda Blumenherst, who didn't tee off until nearly 4:30 and promptly bogeyed her first hole, is tied for third with Chella Choi, also from South Korea. Blumenherst was one over midway through her second round and Choi shot a five-under 68 Friday for a two-day total of 140.

Kia Classic leaderboard

Second-round play will continue Saturday at 7:30 a.m.

Michelle Wie, who had started play Friday in third place and only two shots out of the lead, struggled to a two-over 75 Friday and is tied for eighth with another American, Meaghan Francella, and Japan's Mika Miyazato.

Shin, who inherited the Rolex Ranking spot as the No. 1 women's golfer in the world last April when Lorena Ochoa retired, is No. 2 now to Taiwan's Yani Tseng. But Shin would like the top spot back. "I was there," she said, "so I know how big the pressure is. But I still want to get there."

She described her dominating round Friday simply.

"I jumped on the birdie bus when I started," she said.

That bus stopped nine times for Shin — at the second, third, fourth, sixth, seventh, ninth, 11th, 12th and 14th holes.

"I think this morning my goal was not to make bogey," Shin said. "So it worked and I didn't make bogey. I made a lot of birdies."

In January Shin rented a three-bedroom condo near Palm Springs and shared it with Glen Daugherty, a teaching pro from the Grand Golf Club in San Diego, and her Australian trainer Richard Nizielski.

Daugherty said Shin would do a training workout with Nizielski at 6 a.m., practice golf with him for five or six hours and then have another workout with her trainer.

"She's the best learner I've ever met," Daugherty said. "With golfers often you'll work on something, then they go away for a month and come back and you have to put it all back together again. But not with Shin."

Daugherty, who has been a golf teacher for 30 years, compared Shin's work ethic to Tiger Woods. "She's that tough," Daugherty said.

Wie could not follow her opening round of 68 with anything consistent Friday. "Just kind of mishit a couple of shots," she said. "Missed a couple of putts."

Blumenherst said it was difficult waiting so long to start her second round. "It was tough sitting in the room for hours on end. It's going to be tough [Saturday] getting up early, but I prefer that to playing in the dark."

And maybe Blumenherst can catch Shin's birdie bus.


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