MELBOURNE, Australia -- U.S. Women’s Open champion So Yeon Ryu shot a 4-under 69 on Friday to take a one-stroke lead over fellow South Korean player Hee Kyung Seo after the second round of the LPGA Tour’s season-opening Women’s Australian Open.
Ryu, a playoff winner over Hee in July at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado, had a 6-under 140 total on Royal Melbourne’s Composite Course, the 2011 Presidents Cup venue that is hosting a women’s professional event for the first time.
The 2012 Women's Australian Open is being staged on the Composite Course at Royal Melbourne, which hosted the 2011 Presidents Cup about two months ago.
Seo shot a 66, the best score in the first two days of the tournament also sanctioned by Australian Ladies Professional Golf and the Ladies European Tour.
It is very hard to play this great course,” Seo said. “I know it is not an easy course so I was nervous.”
American Stacy Lewis, the Kraft Nabisco winner, birdied Nos. 12 and 13 to take the lead at 7 under, but followed with a triple-bogey 7 on No. 14 and bogeys on Nos. 15 and 16. She eagled the par-5 17th and closed with a par for a 73 to finish at 4 under.
American Jessica Korda, England’s Melissa Reid and Paraguay’s Julieta Granada also were 4 under. Korda had a 70. Her father, Petr Korda, won the 1998 Australian Open tennis title. Reid shot a 71, and Granada had a 72.
Ryu works with Australian instructor Ian Triggs.
“He is a coach, but feels like a father,” Ryu said.
Triggs has helped her adjust well to Royal Melbourne’s fast greens.
“Sometimes I lose concentration and he wanted me to feel the putts on the putting green,” Ryu said. “I practiced just feeling putts. Sometimes, if I am really nervous, my routine is so fast. I just slowed down and really focused on my ball.”
She tied for second last week in the Australian Ladies Masters at Royal Pines, a stroke behind the Netherlands’ Christel Boeljon, after leading much of the way.
“I think the reason was that I really wanted to win the tournament,” Ryu said. “I think it was really high expectations of myself. I was thinking about winning and the trophy and maybe I lost concentration.”
Seo also has a helpful Australian connection in caddie Dean Herden.
“He is not just a caddie for me,” Seo said. “He is like a brother, a dad sometimes, a friend. He makes me really comfortable all the time. Sometimes he pushes me hard. Not on the course, but in training. I am very happy and very thankful for him.”
Two-time defending champion Yani Tseng was even par after a 76. She had a quadruple-bogey 8 on the seventh hole and bogeyed the next two holes.
“I almost cried,” Tseng said. “But no I didn’t. I hung in there and I did a good job. … I’m glad I was able to fight back on the back nine.”
On the seventh, the top-ranked Taiwanese star pulled her drive left into an unplayable lie. She took a drop, but was still in the deep grass, and needed three more shots to reach the fairway. She hit her sixth shot onto the green and two-putted.
“My first instinct was to go back to the tee,” Tseng said. “I should have decided that way, too, to save a couple shots.”
Tseng won 12 worldwide titles last year, including major victories in the LPGA Championship and Women’s British Open.
Sixteen-year-old American teen star Lexi Thompson was 2 over after her second 74. Four-time champion Karrie Webb was 4 over after a 75.
Fourteen-year-old New Zealand amateur Lydia Ko also was 4 over after a 76. She won the New South Wales Open two weeks ago to become the youngest winner of a sanctioned professional tour event.
Second-ranked Suzann Pettersen of Norway followed her opening 80 -- the second-highest score of her LPGA Tour career -- with a 71 to make the cut.