The whole idea of the LPGA's Symetra Tour is to help golfers get prepared for the proverbial next step. On that score, Annie Park of Levittown took a big step toward the next step Friday. She shot 5-under-par 67 and took a three-stroke lead through 36 holes of the Toyota Danielle Downey Classic in Rochester, N.Y.

Park, having graduated early from MacArthur High School to start college at USC, left college early, after her recently completed junior season, to join the Symetra circuit. It is a feeder system for the LPGA Tour, just as the serves the PGA Tour. Kelly Shon of Port Washington played on the Symetra last summer after graduating from Princeton and is on the LPGA Tour now.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Friday was her best day yet, topped off with her first media scrum as a professional. "I just turned professional a month ago, so this is all happening so fast," she said. "The transition was really quick. After [NCAA] nationals, I had the Open qualifier and then a week later I had my first professional event so I really didn't have time to breathe."

She reached the halfway point of the tournament at 9 under, three strokes ahead of former Golf Channel Big Break standout Emily Talley. Her round was highlighted by a 20-foot birdie putt on No. 16 at the Brook-Lea Country Club.

"I was struggling with some shorter putts and that putt made me feel a lot better about myself," she said. "My putting got better as the round went along and I'm happy that I was bogey-free."