SOUTHAMPTON, New York (AP) — Inbee Park's quest for a third straight major championship in 2013 remains right on track after she shot a 4-under 68 on Friday to lead the U. S. Women's Open by two strokes.
After the horn sounded to suspend play for the day in foggy conditions, Park played out the 18th hole and sank a birdie putt from 12 feet to move to 9-under 135, leading fellow South Korean I. K. Kim.
Of the players yet to finish the round, the closest, England's Jodi Ewart Shadoff, was five strokes back with three holes to go.
Ha-Neul Kim, the first-round leader, had a 77 to fall to 1 under.
Of the 114 players who finished, only nine were under par for the round.
"With the wind and fog, it really made me think that's what the U. S. Open is all about," said Park, a five-time winner this year coming off consecutive victories.
Of the other players to complete the round, Lizette Salas was third at 4 under after a 72. Fellow Americans Angela Stanford and Jessica Korda were another stroke back. Stanford had a 68, and Korda shot 71.
I. K. Kim shot a 69 in the morning session.
"Anything under par I thought was going to be a great score," she said.
Kim seems to thrive under the demands of this tournament, finishing in third or fourth place three straight years from 2008 to '10.
But the closest she came to a major title came last year at the Kraft Nabisco — one foot away, to be exact. Needing just a short putt to clinch the championship, Kim watched the ball lip out on the 18th hole. She went on to lose in a playoff.
"Everybody has ups and downs," Kim said. "Definitely finishing top five in the U. S. Open is not a bad place. But there's times that I was disappointed. I just have a faith — if you do your best, everything is going to be OK."
Park's putting was not quite as impeccable as usual, but she made one of her toughest birdie tries of the day on No. 13, a 20-footer from the fringe, to tie Kim at 7 under.
On the par-5 15th, she sent her third shot to the back of the green, where it bounced off the fringe and rolled down to within a foot of the hole. Park tapped in for birdie and the outright lead.
"Everything that was closer was not going in, then everything that was further away from the hole was going in today," she said. "It was weird."
Her playing partner, second-ranked Stacy Lewis, had a rough day with a 76 that left her at 3 over.
Among the players still on the course were Michelle Wie, who was at 3 over for the round through 17 holes after an 80 on Thursday, and 16-year-old amateur Lydia Ko, at 3 over for the tournament through 16. The round will resume at 7 a.m. Saturday, with the third round beginning around 10:30 a.m. Players will start in groups of three from the first and 10th tees.
Salas was frustrated that she barely missed several birdie putts, but she knows her 72 was a good score in the swirling wind Friday.
"You just can't be too greedy out here," she said. "Just hitting fairways, hitting greens, that was my goal. Eventually the putts will drop."