Pittsford, NY – Se Ri Pak posted a one-under 71 on Friday to take the lead midway through the LPGA Championship, the second major this season on the LPGA Tour.
Pak, a three-time champion of this event, finished 36 holes at three-under 141 and is one stroke ahead at a narrow, windy, and all around difficult, Locust Hill Country Club.
It's never surprising to see the Hall of Famer's name atop a leaderboard, but this week is a little unexpected. She is playing for the first time since she dislocated her shoulder in early April and recovery time was expected to be much longer.
"My shoulder isn't any problem at all," said Pak. "I know it takes a little while. It takes a little more time for me to let it heal and I'm just trying to be myself out there."
Pak has a tough group of competitors just behind her, headlined by former U.S. Women's Open champion, Paula Creamer.
Creamer shot an even-par 72 on Friday and is tied for second with Inbee Park (70), Sandra Gal (71) and Mika Miyazato (72). The group is at two-under 142.
World No. 2 Na Yeon Choi, 2007 winner Suzann Pettersen and last year's U.S. Women's Open champion So Yeon Ryu are part of a large group tied for sixth at minus-one.
The demanding conditions allowed just 11 players to finish two rounds under par.
Perhaps the most shocking display came from defending champion, and world No. 1, Yani Tseng.
She carded a three-over 75 on Friday and made the cut on the number at seven- over par.
Aside from the fact that Tseng already has three wins on the LPGA Tour this year, what made her performance thus far downright shocking was that she won this title last year by 10 shots at 19-under par on the very same course.
"I don't know how I shot 19-under last year," admitted Tseng. "I know the course is very different this year. I mean, I just keep telling myself be patient, be patient, it's a major, everybody is going to make bogey. It's okay."
It was not okay for others, including Michelle Wie, whose puzzling slump continues.
Wie missed the cut by five shots after an 82 on Friday. It was her fifth missed cut in her last six starts.
Azahara Munoz, who is second on the money list, and Cheyenne Woods, the niece of Tiger Woods who made her professional debut this week, both also missed the cut.
The three first-round leaders struggled on Friday.
Ryann O'Toole and Giulia Sergas both had four-over 76s to fall into a tie for 19th at plus-one, while Beatriz Recari shot a six-over 78 and is three-over par.
In two rounds filled with tough golf, great storylines and shocking results, Grace Park added her name to the story.
Park, the 2004 Kraft Nabisco Champion, announced her retirement following the end of this event. She made the cut at plus-six, but said injuries and poor play made her realize it was time.
"After getting my health back and playing every event last year, I wanted to give it one last chance at becoming one of the top golfers again," said Park, who missed a lengthy amount of time with a back injury. "But the truth was, the reality was, that my game just wasn't there."
Pak's game has been there through two rounds.
After a two-under 70 on Thursday, Pak began her second round on the 10th tee and got to three-under with a birdie at the par-five 11th. She dropped a shot at No. 13, but back-to-back birdies at 17 and 18 pushed her into the lead at four-under.
She stayed at that number thanks to six straight pars to start her second nine. Pak tripped to a bogey at the par-three seventh, but no one could even match her at three-under.
She parred her last two for the second-round lead.
"I'm very happy about the finish today, the round, because I got a couple of great up-and-downs from the rough and some great putts too," said Pak. "So I think my momentum is going from non-stop to moving forward. That's why I am here again today."
Eun-Hee Ji (68), Mi-Jung Hur (69) and Sydnee Michaels (71) joined Choi (73), Pettersen (72) and Ryu (70) in sixth at minus-one.
NOTES: Pak has 25 wins in her LPGA Tour career...Last week's ShopRite LPGA Classic winner Stacy Lewis and Kraft Nabisco winner Sun Young Yoo are part of a group tied for 12th at even-par...Cristie Kerr, the 2010 winner by 12 shots, was near the top of the leaderboard until five back-nine bogeys sent her to a four-over 76. She is tied for 26th at two-over.