Pettersen weathers the storm to lead at Wendy's LPGA

Friday, August 20th 2004, 9:50 am
By: News On 6

DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) _ A steady downpour didn't qualify as bad weather to Suzann Pettersen, who took a one-stroke lead at the Wendy's Championship for Children on Friday.

More than an inch (2.5 centimeters) of rain pounded Tartan Fields Golf Club, suspending play late in the afternoon _ as was the case in the first round.

``I don't really care. I'm from Norway,'' Pettersen said. ``We grew up playing in this weather. I almost prefer playing in this than in 100-degree heat and 90-percent humidity.''

Pettersen just completed her round when the sirens sounded, beckoning those still on the course to wait out the storm in the clubhouse.

The 69 players _ including three who never got to hit a shot in the second round because the first tee had to be squeegeed _ waited another 90 minutes before play was again called off. They will return to finish the second round early Saturday.

Pettersen, one of 66 players unable to complete the first round on Thursday, capped an opening 67 with two pars and a birdie early Friday. She avoided a bogey in both rounds, despite the stoppages in play, heavy rains, lightning and thunder. Her 68 left her at 9-under 135.

``I've been playing my 'A' game and I'm right up there, so I'm just trying to be patient and get something going,'' she said.

Defending champion Hee-Won Han and Reilly Rankin were one shot back. Han finished off a 66 and then followed with a 70, while Rankin followed an opening 71 with a second-round 65.

Also moving into contention were teenage amateurs Paula Creamer and Michelle Wie.

Creamer, the 18-year-old player who came within a shot of a playoff at the ShopRite Classic in June, was at 2-under 142 after a second-round 70. Wie, the long-hitting 14-year-old golfer from Hawaii, was 3 over through 10 holes of the first round before battling back and shooting a 73. Then she climbed the leaderboard with a second-round 69 to share 15th place with Creamer.

``Coming from 3 over to 2 under, that's pretty good for a rainy day,'' said Wie, who has made the cut in all six LPGA events she's played this year. ``Overall, I think I played great.''

Creamer watched a sterling round slip away when she bogeyed two of the final four holes. She remained confident she could become the first amateur to win an LPGA event since JoAnne Carner in 1969.

``I expect it of myself,'' she said. ``Coming into these tournaments, I feel that I can win.''

Tied for fourth at 4 under were Catriona Matthew, Marilyn Lovander and the 2002 and 2000 Wendy's winners, Mi Hyun Kim and Lorie Kane.

Kristi Albers, who opened with a 67 and held the first-round lead before play was called off on Thursday, parred her first four holes of the second round and also was at 5 under when play was suspended.

The group at 3 under included 2001 Wendy's winner Wendy Ward and U.S. Open champion Meg Mallon, who has won three times in her last five tournaments.

Pettersen, in her second full year as a pro, has two top-10 finishes in 12 LPGA starts this season.

As the rain came down harder, she seemed to play her best. She birdied the first two par-5 holes, then parred out, except for a 7-iron to 15 feet for another birdie at No. 12.

She relished the chance to sleep later after arising at 4:45 a.m. to finish the first round.

``Now I can kind of get some time off and prepare my brain for two new rounds,'' she said.