CHICAGO: South Korea’s Kim Sei-Young and American Danielle Kang each fired a five-under-par 66 to share the lead after Friday’s (Saturday in Manila) second round of the Women’s PGA Championship.
Kim and Kang, each seeking their first major titles, both stood on seven-under 135 after 36 holes at Olympia Fields near Chicago.
One stroke adrift was a pack including England’s Jodi Ewart Shadoff, American Brittany Lincicome and South Koreans Lee Mi-Hyang, Chella Choi and Amy Yang.
Kim, runner-up in this event two years ago, has won 11 career titles, seven of them on the LPGA Tour, the most recent at the Lorena Ochoa Match Play in May.
But none are the one she yearns for.
“I don’t have any win at the major championship, not yet,” Kim said. “Beginning of the year, setting my goals, I really wanted to win a major championship. So I prepared a lot with my caddie and with my coaches. Yeah, it means a lot to me.”
Kim began on the back nine and birdied the par-4 13th and 14th and closed with another at 18. Her lone bogey of the day came on the par-4 third but she responded with birdies at the par-4 fifth, par-3 seventh and par-4 eighth.
“Fortunately when I teed off, a little less windy, so I was able to attack to the pin,” Kim said. “So I made a lot of opportunities for the birdies. When I hit a tee shot a little into the wind, a little long distance, so I had to hit a lot of long irons.”
Kang, yet to make a bogey this week, opened with a birdie at the par-5 first, then added birdies at the par-3 fourth and par-4 eighth. After another at 12, Kang closed with another birdie that left her level for the lead.
“I kept my game plan and both (rounds are) bogey-free, so I’m pretty happy,” Kang said. “And I kept sticking to the iron shots that I trusted all my life and giving myself opportunities.
“My day was really relaxing to be honest. It was stressful but relaxing. I kept giving myself birdie opportunities. That’s my game plan for the week, and I’m striking the ball really well and my speed on the greens are well. Just been playing consistent.”
Even though she has never won an LPGA title, Kang counts on her experience and planning to come through this time.
“My plan is still sticking with how I laid out the golf course, the same game plan that I’ve been playing the last two rounds,” she said. “So we’ll see what happens at the end of the week. But going to keep sticking to my game plan and stay aggressive and see where I end up.”
Defending champion Brooke Henderson of Canada was two strokes off the pace on 137 along with Australia’s Sarah Jane Smith, South Korea’s Ryu So-Yeon and Thailand’s Moriya Jutanugarn.
New Zealand’s Lydia Ko, India’s Aditi Ashok and US star Michelle Wie were on 138.
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WOMEN’S PGA CHAMPIONSHIP SCORES
Top scores after Friday’s (Saturday in Manila) second round of the Women’s PGA Championship at par-71 Olympia Fields (USA unless noted):
135 – Kim Sei-Young (KOR) 69-66, Danielle Kang 69-66
136 – Brittany Lincicome 70-66, Jodi Ewart Shadoff (ENG) 70-66, Lee Mi-Hyang (KOR) 69-67, Chella Choi (KOR) 66-70, Amy Yang (KOR) 65-71
137 – Sarah Jane Smith (AUS) 70-67, Ryu So-Yeon (KOR) 69-68, Moriya Jutanugarn (THA) 69-68, Brooke Henderson (CAN) 68-69
138 – Lydia Ko (NZL) 70-68, Aditi Ashok (IND) 69-69, Michelle Wie 68-70
139 – Chun In-Gee (KOR) 73-66, Haru Nomura (JPN) 73-66, Gerina Piller 73-66, Jane Park 71-68, Candie Kung (TPE) 71-68, Klara Spilkova 71-68, Marina Alex 71-68, Lexi Thompson 70-69, Nelly Korda 69-70, Ally McDonald 69-70, Emily Pedersen (DEN) 68-71, Kim Kaufman 68-71