Americans are leading the way in Korea.
Reigning U.S. Women’s Open champion Brittany Lang took the lead on Friday from fellow American Alison Lee with a bogey-free, seven-under par, 65 to hold the 36-hole lead at the LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship. Lee sits one-stroke back of Lang at nine-under par with Cristie Kerr and Sung Hyun Park in a share of third at seven-under par.
“It was a very enjoyable day. The greens are really firm but roll really nice. It was such a perfect day of weather,” Lang said after her round. “Started out with a birdie on 1 and just really played super solid. I was really swinging at it well. Hit a lot of fairways and greens, made some long putts early, and had a cool eagle on the back and then birdie 18. It was just a really enjoyable, nice, solid day of play.”
Lee held a three-stroke lead after round one but made the turn on Friday with two bogeys in three holes to quickly cut her lead to one. Lang pulled ahead of Lee with a tap in for eagle at the 251 yard, par four, 15th hole where she hit her tee shot to within a foot of the hole.
“Yeah, so yesterday that hole, when I got to that hole it was playing into the wind. I just laid up short of the bunkers and wedged on and still made a birdie,” said Lang. ”Today was downwind so I could carry it. I just hit a nice little high-cut driver just right of the pin. It landed nice and soft and kind of fed down there. I was looking at it, and I swore it was going to go in. Just lipped out on the high side. It was like two feet, so very easy eagle.”
But Lee answered with a chip-in eagle of her own at the same hole to retake the lead at 10-under par. Lang responded by nearly holing her approach to the par five, 18th hole for a tap in birdie to match Lee at the top. Her approach into the final hole went long into the rough behind the green and was unable to get up and down, falling one behind of Lang heading into the weekend. Lee posted a two-under par, 70 on Friday.
“Overall today I feel like I played pretty well shooting 2-Under. Unfortunately on the back nine I struggled a bit,” Lee told the media. “I didn't make any of the putts I looked at on the back. I missed a lot of birdie putts coming down. On 10 I think I actually 3-putted. I think that's what got me scared. I just couldn't get the ball in the hole. Thankfully I had an eagle on the short par-4 which kind of brought me back.”
Cristie Kerr and Sung Hyun Park sit in a share of third at seven-under par. Kerr carded a bogey-free, 65 on Friday for her lowest round since May. She won twice last season, including the year ending CME Group Tour Championship, but like many Americans on Tour has struggled to find success in 2016. Lang is one of just two Americans to win on Tour this season, the other being defending champion Lexi Thompson who won in February at the Honda LPGA Thailand. Kerr was one of five Americans to win last season on Tour while Lee is still in search of her first win. The 2015 rookie came close to winning in her first season on Tour, finishing third after holding the 36-hole lead at the Kingsmill Championship. Lang, Thompson and Lee were all members of the victorious 2015 U.S. Solheim Cup Team in Germany.
Park, who is a member of the KLPGA, is making her seventh start on the LPGA Tour this season. Park has three top-6 finishes in the majors this year and has finished outside the top-13 just once on Tour. Starting her day on the back nine, Park entered Friday’s round seven-strokes back of the lead. She got off to a quick start, going out in 32 and pulled within one-stroke of Lee at the par four, sixth hole with her ninth birdie of the day. But Park dropped a shot at the par three, eighth hole and finished with a seven-under par, 65 and sits three-strokes back of Lang through 36-holes.
“I think I definitely adjusted to the speed of the green. Yesterday during the first round I wasn't reading the distance quite right, and so the ball would hit the cup and fall out,” Park told the media about her opening round of Even par. “I think today I really concentrated on that and I did better today.”