DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Becky Iverson finshed her round with three straight pars yesterday to remain tied for the lead after the second round of the SBS Open at Turtle Bay.
Iverson sticks it out
The 38-year old is spending the few rounds she has left near the top of the leaderboard
Becky Iverson finished yesterday the same way she began it -- tied for the lead.
The difference is those who were within range of her at the end of the first round are gone. In their place is the Korean connection of Sung Ah Yim and Joo Mi Kim, who blistered the Arnold Palmer-designed course to draw even with Iverson at 9-under 135 entering today's final round of the $1 million SBS Open at Turtle Bay.
Iverson woke up early yesterday morning to finish the final three holes of the rain-delayed opening round. Her 2-year-old daughter, Emma, gave her a 4 a.m. wake-up call to inform her she wanted to go home.
There might have been a time when Iverson would have packed her bags and headed to the airport, but these days, the 38-year-old from Michigan State is armed with a new attitude and the knowledge there may not be too many rounds left for her on the LPGA Tour.
After regaining her tour card for 2006, Iverson spent time on the Hooters circuit this offseason playing for $4,000 first-prize checks trying to find the game that had led to $1.4 million in career LPGA earnings. It's working so far, as she went to the course yesterday tied with Grace Park and remained there thanks to three consecutive pars to end her round at 6-under 66.
She kept right on going with her second round 30 minutes later and promptly birdied the first hole to keep her confidence level up. She finished with a 3-under 69 and needed every stroke to keep pace with Yim and Kim.
"It's good to get off to a better start this year than last year," Iverson said. "I didn't play well last year, so I went back to Q-school. I'm a little healthier and I've been playing the NGA Hooters Tour -- they had a women's division this year. So I feel a little bit more ready than usual."
She'll need to be after the stellar second rounds posted by Kim and Yim. Kim equaled the tournament record set earlier in the round by Lorena Ochoa at 7-under 65. It matched the 21-year-old's best score on the LPGA Tour and put her in good position to win her first event.
Kim said through a translator that if she bogeys the first hole, she always follows it with a good round. When suggested that she do it on purpose, she laughed and said that it didn't work that way.
"After the first hole, every shot that I made was good," said Kim, who also had a bogey at the 10th to go with her eagle and six birdies. "I had a good feeling after that bogey. There was no wind and the weather was perfect. If I had played a little bit better, my score would have really been low."
Close friend and Korean National Team partner Yim went low as well. She shot a 6-under 66 yesterday to draw even with Iverson. Kim came in about a half-hour later and caused some confusion. The LPGA had her at 8 under for the tournament, but her caddie, Jay Jang, insisted Kim was 9 under and the LPGA eventually agreed once the scores were rechecked.
Joo Mi Kim shot a 7-under 65 yesterday to equal the course record and tie for first place through two rounds.
Like Kim, Yim is 21 years old and in search of her first win. The two golfers have known each other since elementary school. In 2002, they were playing partners and helped the Korean National Team win the gold medal in the Asian Games. And while Kim is lighthearted and outgoing, Yim is a little more reserved. She spent her offseason working on controlling her nerves and focusing better in pressure-packed situations.
And the pressure will be on today.
"I was trying to focus on my mind control, like, you know, getting ready for the tournaments and (remaining) calm," Yim said through an interpreter. "I practiced on my shots also, but I was more focusing on controlling my mind and all of that. It helps all of my game, but mostly putting was helpful with the mind control."
Former University of Tulsa golfer Stacy Prammanasudh didn't have too many mental mistakes en route to her 5-under 67 that left her one shot off the pace at 8-under 136. Soo Young Moon was in fifth at 7-under 137. Moon, who shot a 5-under 67 yesterday, was the only golfer among the second-round leaders who played in the afternoon.
By then, the clear skies and light trades of the morning rounds were gone. In their place was no breeze and high humidity that brought light rain. Today's final round will likely see inclement weather.
Not that Iverson is too concerned about that. Living in Michigan, you don't get too many rounds of golf in this time of year.
"I don't get to play too much in December, so I hadn't played for a long time," said Iverson, who tried to shake the rust off with the three Hooters events in January. "There are a lot of things you want to work on.
"Whether I play good or bad, the one thing I'm going to do is play aggressive. And if it doesn't work out, it doesn't work out. I don't think you get any better playing safe on this tour. I mean, these young kids, they are not afraid of anything. So you have to go for it. Some days it's going to be there for you, some days it's not."