After a lengthy rain delay Friday that pushed play into Saturday morning, it’s Australian Katherine Kirk on top of the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic leaderboard heading into Saturday afternoon’s third round thanks to a 9-under-par 63.
Kirk, who has won twice on the LPGA Tour (2008: CP Canadian Women’s Open, 2010: Navistar LPGA Classic), fired a 7-under-par 29 on her back nine, after 2-under par on the front.
“I think it might be my best (round) on the LPGA,” said Kirk. “I felt like I was striking it well (Thursday), I just didn't really capitalize. I don't know if I had one of those points today. My philosophy was to just keep giving myself chances even if I'm 10-over par and still try and make birdies coming in.”
Kirk, whose best finish this year is a tie for 10th at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship presented by P&G, leads by one over Sandra Gal, who finished her second round early Saturday.
Gal fired an 8-under-par 64 over two days to nearly match Kirk’s tournament low round. She was bogey-free and shot a 5-under-par 31 on her back nine, which was split over both Friday and Saturday.
Gal said she felt the Thornberry Creek course fits her eye, and stated there was nothing really on the course she wasn’t comfortable with. That showed in round two, as she said she was concentrating on taking things one shot at a time.
“I know that's the cliché, isn't it, but it just comes down to that every time,” explained Gal. “Just being able to keep it really, really simple with my swing, with my preparation, and enjoying the shot that's in front of me, and then that's all I can do. Whatever the results are… just letting it go a little bit more.”
Jaye Marie Green is three shots off the lead at 10-under, after a second-round 66.
“I couldn’t really get a lot going and then kind of everything was going pretty well on the back,” said Green. “I was hitting fairways, hit it close, and then when I did, I made the putt. Shot 6-under on the back, which was cool.”
Green birdied eight of her final 12 holes and sits in second place alone going into Saturday. She has her brother on her bag this week as her caddie and said that he kept her calm during the back-nine stretch.
A foursome of golfers sits at 9-under, including Pavarisa Yoktuan, Moriya Jutanugarn, Ilhee Lee, and Ashleigh Buhai, who matched Green’s 66 on Friday.
Buhai, who was 3-under par through six holes, birdied hole No’s 13-15 after a bogey on the par-4 11th. She said the key to her success Friday was her putting, on greens she called ‘very pure.’
“I’m feeling good,” she explained. “You've got to drive it well, but (the course is) not playing very long, so it's kind of a putting competition I feel. That's why you're seeing such low scores out there. I'm just really making some putts that I haven't made the last few weeks that has been the difference overall.”
Five sit at 8-under including Christina Kim, looking for her best finish of the year. Eun-Hee Ji, Karine Icher, Amelia Lewis, and rookie Madeleline Sheils join her in a tie for eight.
One shot back, however, sit 14 golfers all at 7-under. That large group, just five shots back of the lead, includes winner already in 2017 Cristie Kerr, multi-time champion Yani Tseng, and In Gee Chun – who is still looking for her first win of the year despite a handful of top-3 finishes.
The third round begins at approximately 1 p.m. ET and the cut was made at 3-under. Notables to miss the cut include Paula Creamer (-2), Charley Hull (-2), Alison Lee (E), and Cheyenne Woods (E). World No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn withdrew during the second round citing a shoulder injury.