Mi Hyang Lee carded a second round of four-under-par 67 to take the halfway lead on 10-under-par at the Evian Championship, ahead of fellow South Koreans Sung Hyun Park, Inbee Park and Hyo Joo Kim.
Lee, the 2017 Aberdeen Standard Investments Ladies Scottish Open champion, had four birdies, a double bogey at the ninth and an eagle at the 18th just before play was suspended at 4.40pm due to electrical storms in the area.
The early starters played their rounds in blazing sunshine, but conditions turned a complete 180 late in the afternoon, with temperatures dropping from 32C to 19C, dark clouds and strong winds gusting across the Evian Resort Golf Course.
Inbee Park, the former world No1 and 2016 Olympic gold medallist, stood firm and finished with three birdies in her last four holes, while Kim, the 2014 champion, birdied 15 and eagled 18. However, overnight leader Paula Creamer, who was nine-under-par and two-under for the day after making a monster birdie putt on the 12th when the claxon was sounded, was blown sideways by the break.
She returned to face her six-foot putt for birdie on 13 only to pull it left of the hole and proceeded to drop seven shots in five holes, including a triple bogey on the 16th, slipping back to two-under-par.
“Unfortunately, this time, it got me,” said Creamer. “I’d been playing really well and it’s unfortunate but today’s Friday and I’ll try to turn it around. I’ll get a good night’s sleep and obviously, it’s not going to be the best of weather so I’ll try to get a good feeling going into the weekend. Unfortunately, that’s golf and mine happened right here, after a delay. I’m going to try to erase what just happened and get back into the mentality I had before this.
“I was playing great, had some chances, I made that long one, then it bounced out a little bit and then, unfortunately, the delay happened. Before I hit the ball really well, so I’ll try mentally to get back to that stage.”
Kim, the course record holder, who shot a 61 on her way to winning the championship in 2014, returned after the delay to play a bunker shot on the 14th and felt that it helped her to stay focused and card a three-under-par 70.
She said, via translation: “Overall, I’m really happy about my score. I really thought about how to get myself a par save. The wind picked up a lot after we came back out to play. I really thought about how I wanted to get my shot on the green. It all worked out. Overall the past few days I really just tried my best. We don’t know if the weather is going to be good or bad. I just want to stay focused on my goal: just keep on the greens and hope that my putting stroke keeps doing well there. Just keep focusing on my goals.”
Park’s scores improved after the delay and she carded a three-under 68. “At the beginning of the round it just didn’t look like it was going my way: missed putts and nothing really wanted to drop. At the end I finished really nicely, three birdies in the last four holes, so I’m really happy with the finish. Hopefully I can keep this going.”
“I’m actually looking forward to a little bit cooler weather, because this has been just really hot. I lost my concentration there a little bit in the beginning because of the heat.
“I played maybe four and a half holes in the wind. I think we were definitely on the wrong side of the draw. It was really tough out there, but I was able to play really good on those holes. It wasn’t easy for sure, but I was able to finish nicely. Hopefully this wind dies down and make it a little bit easier.”
China’s Shanshan Feng is in fifth on seven-under-par, with Caroline Hedwall part of a group tied for sixth place.
England’s Charley Hull and Mel Reid remain in the top 25.
For full results visit: ladieseuropeantour.com