Pressel one long day away from title
PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- Morgan Pressel expects her brain will be fairly fried by Sunday evening. By then, she hopes she'll still have one more challenge: making a victory speech.
Halfway through the LPGA Championship, Pressel has the lead at 6-under 138. Sunday is expected to be the best weather day of this water-logged tournament; it's rumored, even, that a bright object in the sky known as the "sun" will appear.
That would be nice, since the players will have to work overtime. They'll play 36 holes for the title.
"It is going to be a very long day, especially with as wet as it is –- it's tough walking on the wet grounds," Pressel, who had a 2-under round of 70 Saturday and leads by two shots, said. "Gotta make sure I have enough snacks in my bag and stay well hydrated. We've done it [played 36 holes] many times before. I've never really done it while in this [leading] position, but I'm looking forward to it.
"The biggest thing that's different about a major is at the end of the week, you are mentally and physically exhausted, whereas a normal tournament is not quite as mentally taxing as a major."
Pressel will try to hold off world No. 1 Inbee Park, who is tied for second at 4-under 140 with fellow South Korean Chella Choi, the first-round leader. Park shot a second-round 68, which tied American Michelle Wie for the best score of the day. Choi, who has the top score of the tournament with her 67 Friday, shot 73 Saturday.
Park has won three times this season, including the first major of the season, the Kraft Nabisco Championship. Choi is still seeking her first tour victory.
Pressel's last win was nearly five years ago: the Kapalua LPGA Classic in October 2008. Pressel has one other LPGA title, and it's a major: the Kraft Nabisco in 2007.
"I mean, it was a long time ago," Pressel said of that major triumph. "I've been through a lot since then. A lot has happened in golf and life. But that being said, I've done it before. So I just need to go out there and remember that I can do it and just get it done."
For the past year, Pressel -- who got married in January -- has dealt with a wrist injury that has really flared up at this tournament. She says she's feeling fine now, though, and didn't anticipate it would be an issue despite having to do double duty Sunday.
The last LPGA major that went 36 holes on the final day was not long ago: It happened at the 2012 Women's British Open last September. That was won by South Korea's Jiyai Shin, who is still within striking distance here; she's in a three-way tie for fourth at 141. Park, incidentally, finished second in the British last year.
Two other Americans are in the top 10 entering Sunday: Brittany Lincicome and Angela Stanford are tied in a group of five at 2-under 142, four shots off the lead.
For the first two rounds, Lincicome was grouped with Pressel; they're longtime friends and are past Solheim Cup teammates.
"She has played so good; it's great to see, especially her putting," Lincicome said of Pressel. "Definitely, she's picking the right lines, and the speed is really good. I don't see anything that's going to mess her up for the next two rounds. You're going to have to shoot under par to keep up with her."
When she was younger, Pressel sometimes would get emotionally upset if she ran into much adversity during a round. Now at 25, she has a better handle on that. That said, even earlier this year she was struggling mentally in part because of her worries about not playing well enough to make the Solheim Cup team.
Yet here this week at Locust Hill Country Club, a course she says she really likes, Pressel has been very even keel.
"I just feel calm out there, which is a good place to be," Pressel said. "I don't feel like I'm pressing too hard, which I have done in the past, especially recently. As long as I can keep that [calm] going, that's my goal.
"My goal is not to win, it's to be in the moment in every shot. And hit every shot like I'd like to. And everything else will take care of itself."
That sounds very Zen-like -- not a description used for Pressel in past years. With it being so long since her last victory, you could see where her confidence might be lacking. Especially in contrast to Park, who now fully expects to be in contention every tournament.
Yet Pressel said she feels like her performance these past two days actually has been on its way.
"I've been very close for a couple of months now, and I just haven't been able to put it all together," Pressel said. "The times when I hit every fairway and hit every green, I wasn't making the putts that I needed to. And the times when I had my putter rolling, my swing was just a little bit off. This week, I feel like I've put it all together."
But she'll have to hold it together for one more very long day.