LPGA Symetra Tour | Recovered from back injury, Koelbaek stands second, 2 shots behind Feng

Almost a year after injury, Koelbaek chasing leader Feng

jdill@bradenton.comApril 27, 2014 

MANATEE -- Therese Koelbaek finds herself in a situation she hasn't experienced since 2012.

The Dane is in prime position to win her first LPGA Symetra Tour title after a second consecutive 71 has her in second place at the 2014 Guardian Retirement Championship at Sara Bay Country Club.

Orlando resident Cindy Feng carded a 71 to take a two-shot lead over Koelbaek following Saturday's second round.

Koelbaek played sparingly in 2013 because a back injury put her on the shelf following the Symetra Classic last May in North Carolina.

That event also marked the first time Koelbaek withdrew from a tournament in her career.

The initial injury was sustained during a normal gym workout prior to the event, but Koelbaek's back was hurting too much after the North Carolina tournament's opening round.

So the 26-year-old UNLV alum spent the next four months recovering from the injury before playing competitive golf again.

"It's been awhile," Koelbaek said. "The more situations and times you can get in these situations, the better. ... It's definitely focusing on my own game and not get stressed out by the bad shots, because they are going to come. There are going to be a few bogeys out here; it's a tough course."

Koelbaek found four birdies in her round, but the last two were the biggest. They came on the final two holes of her round and vaulted her into second place, just two

shots behind Feng, and the pair will play in Sunday's final group alongside Katie Kempter, who set a tournament record with a 5-under-par 67 to get to a 1-under-par 143 total.

"It's probably a little less stressful when you don't hold the lead," Koelbaek said. "Because you don't feel like you have it all to lose, but kind of there to win it. So I don't mind being a little behind."

Feng had an up-and-down round before dropping a crucial 12-footer on the par-5 18th for birdie.

The 18-year-old said it was a relief to convert the birdie to end her second round.

"I was kind of struggling a little bit as you can tell by the scores," Feng said. "... I wasn't hitting the ball very well, and it was windy. It was windy in the afternoon, so I knew it would be a tougher day out there."

Feng, who leads the tour's money list and won the Florida's Natural Charity Classic earlier this year, hit 14 of 18 greens in regulation. She only missed two greens in Friday's first round, which meant her short game came to the fore Saturday. That resulted in a couple more bogeys.

However, Feng was resilient in offsetting those miscues with four birdies en route to a 71 to give herself a two-shot cushion over Koelbaek.

"Just not get too ahead of myself," said Feng about her final-round strategy. "It's a hard course, and you just have to focus on every shot. You kind of don't care about strokes. Add them up at the end. When you are playing, you just have to focus on what's present. What's the shot you are hitting now; that's what matters."

The final group is slated to start at 11:55 a.m.

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