In-Kyung Kim fires the round of the tournament
While the second round was wet at the LOTTE Championship presented by Hershey, In-Kyung Kim was on fire.
The 28-year-old made nine birdies Thursday, and just a lone bogey, to shoot the round of the tournament. Her 8-under-par 64 catapulted her from a tie for 48th into tie for the lead with Ariya Jutanugarn and Su-Yeon Jang when play was suspended for the day.
She credits a strong day on the greens for her Thursday success.
“I had a great putting day,” she said. “Yesterday I hit the ball pretty well but just didn’t make as many putts. Today, the putts were dropping. I had some good shots but I kind of scrambled very well.”
Kim made five birdies in a row during the second round (from No’s 7-11), and she explained she was able to get aggressive considering the softened course conditions. She also finished third here in 2015, and said she enjoys returning to a place where she has good vibes.
“I think it’s sometimes with my condition, how I feel after majors,” she said. “I think I appreciate more when I come to Hawaii every other year. I love it here. You never know with the conditions, so I just go out with an open mind.”
Kim played during the morning wave Thursday, which was much easier and allowed her some rest as she’s battling a sore throat. High winds and rain pelted the Ko Olina Golf Club in the afternoon, causing the second weather delay in as many days.
“I try to have a good mindset because of my sore throat, but maybe that’s kind of (helping) too. I didn’t expect very much today,” she said. “I just came out and gave it my best, not thinking about the results too much.”
So Yeon Ryu continuing torrid 2017
So Yeon Ryu, who now sits second in the Rolex Rankings, is continuing her tremendous start to the year through two rounds at the LOTTE Championship.
The winner of the ANA Inspiration two weeks ago hasn’t finished outside the top seven at any event so far in 2017, and has three top-2 finishes (including her major victory).
This week, she’s just two shots back heading into the final two rounds after firing a bogey-free 69 (3-under) on Thursday.
She admitted, though, her putting has been holding her back from playing even better than her 7-under-par total shows.
“My shots have been really great, and I didn’t make any bogeys for the first two rounds which is really positive. I just couldn’t make a lot of putts,” she said. “Even though I shot 69 and 68 yesterday, I wasn’t really 100 percent happy with my putting. Hopefully my putting (will be) better for the weekend.”
Surprisingly, Ryu said she was “quite nervous” before the start of this week’s tournament, despite her playing better than anyone else in women’s golf so far in 2017.
“As soon as I start this tournament I felt much better,” she explained. “I don’t really think about what happened last week, I only focus on my game.”
Here comes Ariya
The best player on the LPGA Tour a year ago has yet to crack the winner’s circle in 2017 – she does have two runner-up finishes, however – but Ariya Jutanugarn had a round Thursday that reminded the rest of the field that she’s one of the best in the world.
A bogey-free 6-under-par 66 moved her into a tie for the lead with In-Kyung Kim and Su-Yeon Jang when play was suspended. She closed her day with three-straight birdies on No’s 16, 17, and 18.
She said didn’t hit the ball well Thursday, but her putter kept her in it, and, she felt much better not having to play in the rain.
Alena Sharp still in position for first LPGA Tour win
Despite the fact that her beloved Toronto Maple Leafs lost the first game of their NHL playoff series against the Washington Capitals on Thursday, Alena Sharp’s performance on the course was reason enough to smile.
Sharp followed up Wednesday’s 5-under-par 67 with a 3-under-par 69 in the second round. Her 8-under total has her just one shot back of the lead. Sharp, who has enjoyed her best run on the LPGA Tour since turning professional a decade ago over the last 12 months or so, was happy with her change in attitude this week – and the results have shown, after missing three-straight cuts.
“I really had no expectations coming into this week. I just know that I practiced hard. You just kind of have to let it happen, and I did,” she said. “I’m glad I had a week to regroup. I caught up on sleep and just went back to my old mental process that I’ve had. You can’t force it and being positive.
“I was struggling with my putting and didn’t have a positive outlook in general,” she continued. “Coming into this week I did. I worked hard on it last week and I felt like what I was working on, it was showing up. I just came in feeling more positive to start the week.”
Stacy Lewis staying steady
Matching 4-under-par 68s through two rounds for Stacy Lewis has the 32-year-old sitting just one shot back of the three-way tie at the top of the LOTTE Championship.
Lewis made four birdies in her first five holes before playing the Ko Olina Golf Club at even par for the final 13 holes on Thursday. Interestingly enough, Lewis’ 8-under-par total has come totally from her score on the front nine at Ko Olina.
“It’s just that I’ve had more momentum going into that side than I have when I’ve played the back,” said Lewis. “I played the back early yesterday and just wasn’t striking it very good. Then today, coming out of the delay you kind of lose some of the momentum there. But I played solid for two days and still left some out there. So, it’s some good golf.”
Lewis admitted the golf course was playing completely different after a one-hour, 11-minute delay Thursday.
“It was a lot different,” she explained. “The wind that was there was the complete opposite. The hard part was you had in your head the way you were going to play the next few holes, then all of a sudden it’s a complete change. It was just hard at the end of the day.