(Reuters) - Kim In-kyung and Paula Creamer took the second-round lead as Anna Nordqvist’s quest for a third successive victory faltered at the ShopRite LPGA Classic in New Jersey on Saturday.
South Korean Kim and American Creamer shot matching scores of four-under-par 67 to surge to the front at the Stockton Seaview Hotel and Golf Club in Galloway.
At nine-under 133, they will head into the final round on Sunday two clear of Swede Nordqvist, South Korean Lee Jeong-eun and Thai Moriya Jutanugarn, whose younger sister Ariya will take over as the new world number one from Lydia Ko.
South Korean Ryu So-yeon missed the cut on Saturday, thereby ensuring that Ariya, who is not playing in New Jersey, will assume top spot in the rankings from Ko on Sunday.
Ryu had to finish at least third this week to earn top spot. Ko has also skipped the ShopRite event.
Ariya will become the 10th different number one since the rankings were created in 2006 after Annika Sorenstam, Lorena Ochoa, Shin Ji-yai, Ai Miyazato, Cristie Kerr, Yani Tseng, Stacy Lewis, Park In-bee and Ko.
First round leader Nordqvist’s love affair with the venue cooled a little as she battled to an even-par 71, a score she thought was a little harsh.
“Overall I feel like I played a bit better than I scored,” Nordqvist told reporters. “The wind really kicked up and I was surprised how strong it was.
“I think tomorrow you just got to go out there and stay aggressive. I feel like I‘m hitting the shots I need to hit. Just a matter of making a few more putts.”
Co-leader Kim, a four-times LPGA winner, is getting back to her best after an injury she said was incurred falling on stairs late last year.
“I got very sick and then I needed to rehab and recover,” she said, explaining why she missed the first two months of the year. “I‘m really healthy now, but I fell on the stair and just wasn’t good. But I have good support team with me, so everything is really good. I think I got stronger actually after that injury.”
Creamer was happy to be tied for the lead after taking a penalty stroke at her final hole, before getting up-and-down to save par.
She has 10 LPGA victories, but only one since the 2010 U.S. Open.
”I’ve had some pretty bad sad moments,” Creamer said.
”I knew there was a time I was going to kind of breakthrough.
“These last two days have been good golf. Whatever happens tomorrow happens, but I feel like my golf game is in a good place.”
Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; Editing by Peter Rutherford