Confident Choi boosts lead to two at halfway point of Jamie Farr Classic

lpga tour, jamie farr owens corning classic, na yeon choi
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Na Yeon Choi is motivated by missing a cut for the first time as a pro last week at the LPGA Championship.
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Associated Press

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Published: Friday, July 02, 2010 | 7:14 p.m.

Na Yeon Choi is looking forward to the weekend. So is Paula Creamer, but for an entirely different reason.

Choi followed an opening 7-under 64 with a 67 on Friday in the second round of the Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic to forge a two-stroke lead. She'll be chasing her third career victory.

Creamer, winner of the Farr two years ago, struggled to a 73 and missed the cut. That meant a weekend away from the pain associated with playing with her surgically repaired left thumb.

"I'm very disappointed in how I played but it's two more rounds under my belt," she said. "I'm getting used to getting out there and there's some things I need to work on. It's just the hard part is being able to work on them."

Still rehabbing after having the ligament damage repaired in her thumb, Creamer has played in the last three tournaments.

"Probably three in a row is too much coming out at first," she said. "But I feel like I have an obligation. I love coming to this golf course and the fans ... you don't want to miss that."

While Creamer tries to find some answers before next week's U.S. Women's Open at Oakmont, Choi continued to ride a wave of confidence.

She missed her first LPGA Tour cut in more than 2 years last week at the LPGA Championship. Angry at herself, she discarded her putter and got a new one. As a result, she's needed just 53 putts in 36 holes while getting to 11-under 131. She doubled her first-round lead.

"I had confidence out there with my friend Inbee Park," she said, speaking of her fellow South Korean. "We enjoyed it. No bogeys today, so I feel perfect."

They'll also play together for the third straight day in the final pairing on Saturday.

Park shot a 66, Christina Kim had a 67 and Alena Sharp a 68 to share second place at 9-under 133. Park three-putted for a bogey at the 16th hole, then turned around and holed a 20-yard bunker shot for eagle at the 17th.

"I was a little disappointed (with the bogey) but that eagle just washed that away," she said. "It gave me a lot of confidence going into the weekend that I'm that much closer to the leader."

Kim has had an erratic year since her book detailing tour life -- "Swinging From My Heels" -- came out. She said that every player who's read it has said good things to her. She also said she's not paying attention to sales figures.

"My publishers aren't calling and saying, 'This is the biggest mistake of our lives,' so that's a positive," she said with a laugh.

Sharp has never finished better than seventh in her 4 years on tour. As a result, she's not used to seeing her name on the leaderboard.

"I was a little nervous today," the Canadian said. "I just wanted to get out and get started. Then I got into the way I felt yesterday -- just really relaxed. I'm happy with the way my game is going into the weekend. I like my position."

Kristy McPherson holed a 60-degree wedge from 75 yards on the 18th hole for an eagle and a 68 to lead a pack of six players at 136.

"It's always nice when you don't have to putt on the last hole," she said.

Joining her at 136 were Song-Hee Kim (66), In-Kyung Kim (66), Beatriz Recari (67), Stacy Prammanasudh (67) and Stacy Lewis (69). Lewis, who was born in Toledo, was supported by a large number of fans and relatives wearing "Lew Crew" T-shirts.

Defending champ Eunjung Yi had a 68 and was eight shots back.

Creamer, whose No. 1 backer is the tournament sponsor, was going to stay in Toledo to tune up for the Open. She was trying to forget her injury.

"I'm trying not to dwell on my thumb as much," she said. "I do have some thumb problems but you just have to work through them."