A brief pep talk from swing coach Robin Symes was needed Saturday in the Safeway Classis to put Na Yeon Choi in the proper frame of mind.
“I told my coach that I feel very scared to lose this chance. This is my first time to win this year,” Choi said. “He said, ‘This is not the first time. You had four times before. This is really like the fifth time. Don’t be scared.’
“My answer was, ‘OK, I’ll do my best.’ ”
And true enough, she did.
The South Korean golfer shoot a 2-under 69 to reach 8 under and attain a three-stroke lead at the Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club’s Ghost Creek course. She reeled off seven consecutive birdies at 65 during her opening but got three birdies and a bogey in the second round.
Stacy Lewis, who started the round with four consecutive birdies but got bogeys at Nos. 5, 9 and 10, slipped to second place at 68. Third place at 67 was Mika Miyazato.
The softer greens and cool weather during the morning was to Choi’s advantage as she opened the round with 65. It was however the hottest day of the year in the area with much tougher conditions Saturday no thanks to a switching wind.
“My putter wasn’t great like yesterday, but I only missed one short putt,” Choi said. “I think I like these greens. I can see the line.”
Choi said it was in July last year during the Jamie Far Classic when she last led a tournament wire-to-wire.
“I’ll start out playing aggressively and then I’ll decide how to play. I want to play my game, not their game or her game,” Choi said.
“It was really warm out there, and then wind was very switching a lot and it was a lot firmer than yesterday,” Choi said.
“So sometimes really hard to stop the ball on the green. But I felt very comfortable and confident out there. I don’t know what reason, actually more comfortable than yesterday. And I was very calm until last hole. That’s why I played well today.”