NORTH PLAINS, Ore. – Na Yeon Choi needed a brief pep talk from swing coach Robin Symes to put her in the proper frame of mind Saturday in the Safeway Classic.
"I told my coach that I feel very scared to lose this chance. This is my first time to win this year," Choi said. "He said, "This is not the first time. You had four times before. This is really like the fifth time. Don't be scared.'
"My answer was, "OK, I'll do my best.'"
The South Korean star took a three-stroke lead, shooting a 2-under 69 to reach 8 under on Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club's Ghost Creek course. She had three birdies and a bogey in the second round after reeling off seven consecutive birdies in her opening 65.
Stacy Lewis was second after a 68. She started the round with four consecutive birdies, but dropped three strokes with bogeys at Nos. 5, 9 and 10.
Mika Miyazato (67) was third at 3 under.
Choi took advantage of cool weather and softer greens during the morning en route to her opening round 65.
Conditions were much tougher Saturday afternoon, the area's hottest day of the year with temperatures in the mid-90s. Choi said the wind was "switching" and it was difficult to stop shots on the greens.
"My putter wasn't great like yesterday, but I only missed one short putt," Choi said. "I think I like these greens. I can see the line."
Choi said the last time she led a tournament wire-to-wire was the Jamie Farr Classic last year in July.
"I'll start out playing aggressively and then I'll decide how to play. I want to play my game, not their game or her game," Choi said.
Lewis, in her third year on tour, is aiming to win her second official LPGA Tour title of the year and her career. In April, Lewis captured the Kraft Nabisco — the first major of the year.
Lewis' putter was working early during the second round. She rolled in birdie putts of 18, 25, 25 and 30 feet during the first four holes to briefly move into a tie for the lead with Choi.
"I didn't hit great shots or anything. The putts were just going in," Lewis said.
Lewis said she feels more comfortable in a contending position since her big victory in April.
"I've just been riding that high. I know I'm playing well. It's just the confidence level is a lot higher," Lewis said.
Brittany Lincicome (68), Ryann O'Toole (69) and Grace Park (73) were 2 under.
Among those at 1 under was Louise Stahle, who shot Saturday's low round with a 66.
Christina Kim, trying to hold onto the last of the 10 automatic spots on the U.S. Solheim Cup team, was 4 over after a 72. No. 11 Katie Futcher missed the cut with rounds of 76 and 78, No. 12 Kristy McPherson was 3 over after a 72, and No. 13 Vicky Hurst was 1 over after a 72.
Rosie Jones will add two captain's picks after the tournament for the Sept. 23-25 matches against Europe at Killeen Castle in Ireland.
Michele Redman, playing in her last tour event before she takes over as the women's golf coach at the University of Minnesota, missed the cut with rounds of 79 and 76.