Jenny Shin takes lead by one in windswept Saturday at the ShopRite LPGA Classic at -10

 Jenny Shin takes lead by one in windswept Saturday at the ShopRite LPGA Classic at -10

By Joe Juliano


GALLOWAY, N.J., - Jenny Shin left the golf course at Seaview feeling really good about tying her career low with a 63 in Friday’s opening round of the ShopRite LPGA Classic. But when she returned Saturday to the Bay Course, she found that the weather gods had decided to toughen up the layout for her and her fellow competitors.


The wind freshened to 15 miles an hour at the start of her morning round and began gusting to more than 20 as the day wore on. When Shin suffered back-to-back bogeys on the 14th and 15th holes, she was even par for her round with three holes remaining.


However, she got two shots back at the end with a pair of 2-footers for birdie at 17 and 18. That gave her a 2-under-par 69 and propelled her to the top of the leaderboard for a 1-stroke lead after two rounds of the $1.75 million LPGA Tour event.


“I fully expected not having any wind in the morning so that took me by surprise,” Shin, 31, said after completing 36 holes at 10-under 132. “I think I was a little bit rattled on the front nine. Kind of bummed out that certain birdie holes were pretty tough today. I had a few missed clubbings. The greens were a little bit quicker in the morning, so there are a few putts I blew by 10 feet.”


It was quite a different feeling from Friday’s round, where Shin carded nine birdies against a single bogey in a steady afternoon breeze. But she said the wind was stronger at some points on Saturday morning and the direction was slightly different.


For the day, Shin had six birdies and four bogeys on her card. Her day ended with tap-in birdies at the 114-yard par-3 17th and the 507-yard par-5 18th, where she had 43 yards for her third shot.


“Yeah, it was a scramble but I’m very happy with my two (closing) birdies,” she said.


The scoring shifted on the second day. Friday’s round featured a tournament record-tying 61 by Arpichaya Yubol, one of 16 rounds of 66 or better. However, for almost the entire day Saturday, the low round was 67 posted by eight players until the very final group of the afternoon, when Ssu-Chia Cheng checked in with a 65.


The tougher scoring conditions expanded the logjam in the standings. A total of 67 players made the cut of 3-under-par 139 with only seven strokes separating Shin and the last 15 players that qualified for Sunday’s final round. Thirty-seven players are within five shots of the lead, and 14 are within three.


Albane Valenzuela, who has finished in the top six at ShopRite in each of the last two years, held sole possession of second place at 133 after a 68. Megan Khang and Wei-Ling Hsu each posted rounds of 69 and Narin An had a 70 to share third at 134. Jeongeun Lee6, the 2019 U.S. Women’s Open champion, led a group of 7/8 players at 135.


Regarding the first-round leader, after a bogey-free round on Friday, Yubol dropped a shot at No. 2 and suffered a triple bogey 7 at No. 4. She carded eight straight pars before another bogey at No. 13, but got that shot back with a birdie on the 17th. Her 75 put her in a tie for 14th at 6-under 136.


In her 14th season on the LPGA Tour, Shin has finished in the top 10 on 42 occasions but has just one victory – the 2016 Volunteers of America Texas Shootout. She has been a remarkably consistent money winner, and is closing in on the $6.5 million mark in career earnings.


Shin played in her first ShopRite LPGA Classic in 2011 and has missed just one cut, in 2021. She has four top-10 finishes in the event, including each of the past two years – tied for ninth in 2022 and tied for sixth in 2023. The familiarity with the course and the crowds makes it fun for her, she said.


She would like to finish the job on Sunday and gain her second career victory, and continue with an outside chance at making the Olympic team from South Korea.


“This golf course is pretty forgiving if you miss it in the right place,” She said. “I don’t know what the weather is going to be like tomorrow, but you need a little bit of luck. You need to make the birdies when they come and you just can’t make bogeys. So tomorrow is always about patience, I think.”


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