Jiyai Shin shoots bogey free 64 to lead Kia Classic by four shots

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Jiyai Shin

Jiyai Shin

Second-ranked Jiyai Shin shot a bogey-free 9-under 64, birdieing nine of the first 14 holes, to take a four-stroke lead Friday in the rain-delayed Kia Classic.

“I jumped on the birdie bus,” Shin said.

The South Korean star, an eight-time winner on the LPGA Tour, had a 12-under 134 total on the Industry Hills Golf Club course at Pacific Palms. Seventy-two players, all of the afternoon starters, were unable to finish the round after rain delayed the start three hours.

“I think I’m really lucky to finish,” Shin said. “I played very well, so I’ll take a good rest.”

Germany’s Sandra Gal was second at 8 under with nine holes left when play was suspended for the day because of darkness. Amanda Blumenherst, the first-round leader, and Chella Choi were third at 6 under. Blumenherst had nine holes remaining, while Choi shot a 68.

“Because of the rain delay this morning, I was a little tired,” Choi said. “But it actually gave me more time to prepare and warm up, and things went well from there.”

Michelle Wie, returning to the tour after finishing finals at Stanford, followed an opening 68 with a 75 to drop nine strokes behind Shin at 3 under. Wie bogeyed three of her final four holes.

“Just kind of didn’t get a couple of holes going,” Wie said. “Just kind of mis-hit a couple of shots and missed a couple putts and I guess that’s the difference it makes. … You have to be on the right side of the fairway, because there are trees blocking out half of the green, so it’s really about management.”

Shin, trying to regain the top spot in the world from Yani Tseng, missed only one fairway and one green in regulation and finished with 25 putts. She made four birdie putts from 12 feet or longer.

“My goal was 3 under par, so I just kept thinking before the round to make a couple birdies and no bogeys,” Shin said. “I just kept focused for my shot. It was really easy, simple play.”

Blumenherst, a stroke ahead of Gal after the first round, was four shots behind when she started the second round late in the afternoon.

“I was not watching at all,” Blumenherst said. “I had no idea of what was going on. It’s just part of the game.”

Tseng, the winner of the season-opening Honda LPGA Thailand and three other worldwide events this year, was 2 under for the tournament with five holes left. Karrie Webb, coming off her second straight victory Sunday in Phoenix, was 2 over — also with five holes remaining in the round.

The tournament is the tour’s first in the Los Angeles area in six years. Last year at La Costa in Carlsbad, Hee Kyung Seo won her first LPGA Tour title, beating Inbee Park by six strokes. Seo was in position to miss the cut following rounds of 77 and 73.

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Four straight birdies puts Blumenherst in a one shot lead of the Kia Classic

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Amanda Blumenherst

Amanda Blumenherst

Amanda Blumenherst birdied the final four holes for a 7-under 66 and a one-stroke lead over Germany’s Sanda Gal on Thursday in the Kia Classic.

Blumenherst, the former Duke star seeking her first LPGA Tour victory, had nine birdies and two bogeys in her opening round on the Industry Hills Golf Club course at Pacific Palms.

The American took advantage of tranquil morning conditions on the rain-softened course.

“The fairways are extremely soft right now. So are the greens,” Blumenherst said. “It’s playing a lot longer than it says on the card, which actually suits me because I’m one of the longer ballstrikers.”

Michelle Wie birdied the par-5 18th for a 68. The Kia endorser, returning to the tour after finishing finals at Stanford, played in chilly conditions late in the afternoon.

“It was very cold out there, especially during the end,” Wie said. “It’s a tough course. You’ve got to be patient out there, and hopefully tomorrow do the same thing and hopefully have a couple more birdies.”

Blumenherst played the back nine in 5-under 30.

“I’m playing so well, just the scores have not been coming together,” she said. “The putts haven’t been falling. And I just haven’t been playing as smart as I should. Just everything came together today.”

Gal also had four consecutive birdies on her back nine. She finished with seven birdies and a bogey.

“I think it’s a ballstriker’s course,” Gal said. “You’ve got to hit the fairway and be precise with your yardages. I think that’s my game.”

Wie relied on power and accuracy on the soggy course.

“I think that (length) is an advantage, but obviously it’s a very tight golf course, so you have to be on the fairway,” Wie said. “I think that you have to have a combination of both.”

Second-ranked Jiyai Shin was four strokes back at 70 along with Reilley Rankin, Mika Miyazato, I.K. Kim, Catriona Matthew and Amy Hung.

Top-ranked Yani Tseng, the winner of the season-opening Honda LPGA Thailand and three other worldwide events this year, opened with a 71. Karrie Webb, coming off her second straight victory Sunday in Phoenix, shot a 72.

The tournament is the tour’s first in the Los Angeles area in six years. Last year at La Costa in Carlsbad, Hee Kyung Seo won her first LPGA Tour title, beating Inbee Park by six strokes. Seo shot a 77 on Thursday.

Dori Carter was unable to finish the final hole because of darkness.

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