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Merkle attacks Mid-Pacific to tie Corpuz at Jennie K


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POSTED: Sunday, May 17, 2009

Allisen Corpuz and Kristina Merkle took divergent paths to arrive at the same spot.

Where the 11-year-old Corpuz continued her steady approach, Merkle decided to hit the throttle in yesterday's second round of the Jennie K. Wilson Invitational at Mid-Pacific Country Club.

The result, a tie atop the leaderboard at 1-under-par 143 entering today's final round in the 59th annual tournament.

Hitting fairways and greens, Corpuz held at least a share of the lead throughout the second round in shooting 2-over-par 73.

After shooting a 73 on Friday, a conversation with her parents and caddie convinced Merkle to play more aggressively. She responded with a 2-under 70 to catch Corpuz.

“;They kept reminding me to, 'knock the flag down.' So I wrote it on my arm ... so this would be the last thing I'd look at right before I hit,”; Merkle said, showing off the note scribbled in orange ink on the inside of her forearm.

Merkle, seeking her third Jennie K title in four years, and Corpuz enter this morning's 8:52 tee time with a two-stroke lead over Punahou sophomore Cyd Okino, who recovered from a 41 on the first nine holes to end the round with a 74.

“;I'm just out here for fun and just to do the best I can,”; the soft-spoken Corpuz said. “;I'm just going to play tomorrow as a new day.”;

The championship flight started the second round on the back nine and Corpuz began the day with a birdie on No. 10 to move to 3 under. She had one bogey and one birdie over the next 13 holes and had her first wobble of the tournament when she bogeyed holes 6 and 7. But she steadied herself to end with two pars.

“;She doesn't make a lot of mistakes, that's the key to her game, and she's putting real well,”; said Kevin Ralbovsky, Corpuz' caddie and coach.

“;She's very even-keeled, she never has too many highs or lows. That's just like her golf game. Emotionally she's real steady.”;

Though not quite as long off the tee as her older playing partners, Corpuz kept her drives in the fairway most of the day and her accuracy with her irons consistently left her in position to at least make par.

“;She's such a talented golfer, especially so young and being able to cope with the pressure of being in the lead,”; Merkle said. “;It's really nice seeing young kids being so respectful to others and just playing really good golf.”;

Merkle shot 4 under through 12 holes and tied Corpuz for the lead with a birdie on the par-5 third hole. She slid back moments later when her first shot on the par-3 fourth plugged in the bunker fronting the green, leading to a double bogey. She fell back to even with a bogey on No. 7, but got a birdie putt to drop on the next hole to again tie Corpuz.

Okino fell seven shots behind Corpuz after nine holes yesterday. But she tamed her putter to make up five strokes over the next nine, closing with back-to-back birdies to move into contention.

“;I wasn't mad or anything, I just wanted to start making a par,”; Okino said. “;Going into that nine, I was like, 'don't get aggressive, just get it close and if it drops, it drops.' “;