PHILOSOPHER SPIRIT FOR IN GEE IN ASSESSING NEAR-MISSES
In Gee Chun assumed the role of a philosopher at the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship on Friday after being asked in the media center how she viewed her five runner-up spots on the 2017 LPGA Tour, coupled with her failure to claim a single victory.
“I was a runner-up five times, but I have to say, every single time the kind of emotions and kind of feelings that I have are quite different,” In Gee said after matching the low round of the day with a seven-under 65 to surge into a three-way tie for second place.
“One time I really wanted to pat myself on the back for having fun and doing really well on the day to come up as runner-up. On other days I was really frustrated with myself for being runner-up.
“I think that that’s life. You don’t always get your way. Golf is the same. Of course with every event you want to win, but you can’t win every time. That’s kind of like life. As a player you have to kind of find the balance between your expectation and fears. This year was really meaningful for me because it gave me a chance to kind of look back on the significance of that.”
In Gee, whose two career victories on the LPGA Tour both came at major championships, birdied six of her last nine holes on the Ocean Course in the second round to put herself in prime position heading into the weekend.
“Yesterday I felt that I had missed a lot of my shorter birdie putt chances, and today on the front nine I also missed some chances,” she said. “On the back nine, I kind of regrouped myself and I tried to steer away from thinking about making mistakes or about thoughts about how I really wanted to make those birdie putts.
“So I decided to sort of follow my instinct and gut feeling and let my stroke come naturally, and I think that really helped.”
SHAKY PUTTING COSTS SUNG HYUN ON BACK NINE
Followed by the biggest galleries of the day in dazzling sunshine, Sung Hyun Park appeared to be on course to take charge of the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship in the second round as she birdied five of her first 10 holes before losing momentum over the closing stretch.
A balky putter contributed to bogeys on the 13th and 16th holes and she failed to birdie the vulnerable par-five last after hooking her second shot left, eventually signing for a three-under 69 that left her two strokes off the lead.
“After the 13th hole, I kind of became antsy and my putting stroke was a bit off,” said Sung Hyun. “After that, I missed a lot of short putts, so that was a bit unfortunate for me. In terms of my driver shots and second shots, it was largely the same as yesterday, she added referring to her opening 66.
“My putting was slightly off today, and that’s probably why the score today isn’t as high as I would like it to be.”
Overall, though, Sung Hyun is well placed to push on for her third LPGA Tour victory of the year while continuing to build a case for multiple end-of-season awards. Apart from Rookie of the Year, the slim Korean is also a strong contender for the Vare Trophy and Player of the Year.
“I am in a good position going into the weekend,” said Sung Hyun. “To be really honest, I’m not really thinking about Player of the Year or any of that at all. I’m really focused on the game at hand.”
PACESETTING YIN FEEDS OFF SALAS AND SOLHEIM CUP ENERGY
Solheim Cup energy was another positive factor for LPGA Tour rookie Angel Yin on Friday as she powered her way ahead of the field at the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship after 36 holes.
With fellow American and Solheim Cup partner Lizette Salas having been paired in her second-round grouping, Yin fed off good vibes throughout the second round to take control of the tournament at the midway point.
“I really enjoyed playing with Lizette at the Solheim Cup and we have been hanging out a lot, so it was fun to play with her again,” said Yin, who carded a 65 while Salas returned a 69. “It just puts you in a good mood. You’re having fun out there, which is important. Sometimes it gets too intense. It’s a tournament, but at the same time you have to have fun to play well.”
Yin has also been inspired by World No. 2 Sung Hyun Park, front-runner in the race for the Louise Suggs Rolex Rookie of the Year award where Yin is a distant second with six events remaining before the end of the season.
“She’s great competition,” Yin said of Sung Hyun, who won her first major title at this year’s U.S. Women’s Open. “Makes me keep going. Actually I’m really happy that we have the same rookie year. She keeps me driving, improving myself.”
While Yin has yet to claim her first LPGA victory, she is delighted with a 2017 campaign that includes three top-10 finishes and an impressived debut at the Solheim Cup where she regularly smashed drives more than 340 yards.
Asked to rate her season, she replied: “From one to ten, I would say I’m doing like a seven. That’s pretty high. I know I’m a good player. Played on the LET (Ladies European Tour) last year, which helped me grow as a person and with my golf game. So I knew I was going to do pretty well here. My goal was to win Rookie of the Year.”
AILING IN-KYUNG KIM PULLS OUT BEFORE SECOND ROUND
Ricoh Women’s British Open champion In-Kyung Kim, a three-time winner on the 2017 LPGA Tour who had opened with a three-over 75 on the Ocean Course, withdrew before the start of her second round on Friday due to illness.
“I think we have been going good. We know the course. I need to make some birdies on the par-fives, and then a few more. There are some tough holes where if you can make par it’s good. I think we’re doing good.”
- Carlota Ciganda
“I’m thinking that perhaps I have to go back to when I first started and really go back to my mentality then. Because I am hitting better, I think I really want to perfect the game. As you know, golf is a game or sport you cannot perfect. I think that’s kind of been holding me back on the course.”
- In Gee Chun