Rain delay does not deter leaders
VIENNA, Ohio -- The field is weak, the weather report is bad and darkness fell just as the final putt rattled into the cup.
Michelle Estill and Young-A Yang didn't care.
Seeking her first victory in 13 years, Estill shot a 5-under 67 to share the lead with Yang, a second-year pro chasing her first career win, after Saturday's rain-delayed second round of the Giant Eagle LPGA Classic.
In a tournament without Annika Sorenstam, Grace Park, Se Ri Pak or even amateur Michelle Wie, the winner will face the same challenge as any other week.
"You've still got to shoot a number," Estill said after finishing the first 36 holes at 6-under 138.
The start of the second round was delayed by 2 hours, 15 minutes. More rain is predicted for the final round, with the field going off early in threesomes from the Nos. 1 and 10 tees in order to get the round in.
The top 17 money-winners aren't in the field, mostly because they are preparing for the rich Evian Masters in Paris next week and then staying in Europe for the year's final major, the Women's British Open.
Estill, who lost her card after earning just $13,401 a year ago, picked up her only tour victory in the 1991 Ping-Cellular One.
Despite not winning, she has made a steady living in her 14 years on the road, finishing in the top 50 on the money list five times. Still, she hasn't had a top-10 finish since 2001.
"After the last couple of years, a win would help my self-confidence," the 41-year-old said. "Last year I really had a lot of doubt and I was thinking about maybe getting into something else. Now the fun's back in the game for me."
Estill, who opened with a 71, holed a 143-yard 7-iron for an eagle on the third hole and then added four more birdies against one bogey.
"I didn't realize I shot a 67," she said. "I kept adding it over and over."
Yang, a native of South Korea who attended the University of Tennessee and now lives in Knoxville, started the day a shot back of first-round leader Gloria Park's 66. Her 71 was built on three birdies and two bogeys.
She said she welcomed being in the final group after finishing tied for seventh at the Sybase in May.
"I'm pretty comfortable with the position I'm in, maybe because I had the experience at Sybase," Yang said. "I'm playing with a veteran tomorrow and hopefully I'll learn from watching her play and we'll see what happens."
Laura Diaz shot a 70 and was a shot back at 139 along with Moira Dunn, who had a 69.
A reunion with caddie Thad Kael spurred Diaz to her best position heading into a final round since undergoing ankle surgery in December. Kael and Diaz went their separate ways over a year ago before getting back together earlier this week.
"My caddie quit and he just begged for the job back -- no, I'm just kidding," Diaz said, getting Kael's attention as he sat a few feet away. "Having a caddie back that has a lot of confidence in you, that totally helps my confidence. I was shocked at the difference it made."
Nadina Taylor shot a 69 and was alone in fifth, with Leta Lindley (70) and Heather Bowie (69) three shots back of the co-leaders at 141.
First-round leader Gloria Park was 10 shots worse than her opening 66.
"It was just a tough day," she said. "I just had one or two bad holes."
Ironically, two of the biggest names missed the cut -- defending champion Rachel Teske and the top money-winner in the field, Pat Hurst at No. 18 on the list.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press