FOUR PLAYERS TIED FOR THE LEAD HEADING INTO THE WEEKEND
Danielle Kang and three players from the 2018 UL International Crown - Ariya Jutanugarn, Sung Hyun Park and Charley Hall - sit atop the leaderboard going into the weekend at the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship. Sitting two strokes behind the leaders are Lydia Ko, who shot a 4-under 68 on Friday, and Nasa Hataoka, after a 1-over 73.
NAMDALLA FANS GROWING EVERY DAY
Sung Hyun Park followed her first-round 68 with another 68 on Friday to put herself in a four-way tie at the top. World no. 1 Park carded six birdies and two bogeys, hitting eight of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens, well on her way to secure another win on the 2018 season.
“To talk about the bogeys first, I think that they were both relatively short birdie putts, but I 3-putted both of them,” said Park. “So it kind of lingered in my mind. But overall, I was able to hole a lot of birdies and I was able to shoot for a lower score, so overall, I think it was a good day.”
Park’s Namdalla fan club took to the course in huge groups, following their beloved idol, and they added to their numbers as the day went on. Unable to explain why such fandom exists around her, Park says she feels more comfortable and enjoys playing in front of her fans on home soil.
“I’ve been playing here in Korea for the past two weeks, and I have to say I'm surprised myself by the large crowds that come to support me,” said Park, whose fan club number membership is 12,000 and counting. “Of course, this is something that I don't get a lot in the U.S., so it's been a very happy two weeks for me.”
NO LEADERBOARD-WATCHING FOR JUTANUGARN
After an up-and-down front nine that included three bogeys and just two birdies, Rolex Rankings World No. 2 Ariya Jutanugarn decided to avoid looking at the leaderboard and just concentrate on playing golf.
"I didn't worry about the outcome," Jutanugarn said after posting an 8-under total of 136 for a four-way tie for the lead. "I wanted to play well because I feel that I'm in a good position and then when I turned around for the back nine, I just feel like it didn't help me. So I just come back to myself and focus on the things that I can control and that's helped me a lot today. On my back nine. I hit a few shots pretty close and I also made some long putts. I didn't watch the leaderboard at all because, after my front nine, I feel that I don't care about the lead. Just play golf."
Jutanugarn has already won three times on the LPGA Tour this season (joint best with Sung Hyun Park) and she leads in several statistical categories including scoring average, the Rolex Player of the Year standings and the Race to the CME Globe. All of that, however, can take care of itself, said the 22-year-old Thai, as she maintains her focus squarely on Saturday's round three of the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship.
"I just focus day by day," Jutanugarn said with a smile. "I don't think about I'm going to win anything or not. I think it's all still pretty far ahead."
IN-FORM HULL LOOKING FOR CAREER WIN NO. 2
Great things have been expected of Charley Hull on the LPGA Tour ever since she won the 2016 CME Group Tour Championship with a tournament-record total of 19-under-par. However, she has not been able to add to that lone LPGA Tour victory since then, despite several close calls along the way.
This week, though, may be very different. The 22-year-old from Kettering in England, has produced some stellar golf so far at the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship, opening rounds of 5-under 67 and 69 lifting her into a four-way at the top after 36 holes. The highlight on Friday came at the par-five seventh where she eagled the hole after hitting a rescue wood to 15 feet and sinking the putt.
"It would be great," Hull said when asked about the significance of securing a second career win on the LPGA Tour. "I've been playing really well this year. I've been like putting some good scores together and finishing well in the majors. I feel like my game is up there. I just need to get confidence and get the win and I'll feel really good."
Hull has recorded five top-10s this season in 20 starts, including ties for sixth at both the ANA Inspiration and the KPMG Women's PGA Championship, and she pinpoints her putting as "probably" the one thing holding her back from a return to the winner's circle. "I just need to hole more putts, and stop missing so many short ones," she said.
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