It was another bogey-free day for Epson and LPGA Tour winner Andrea Lee on Friday at the BMW Ladies Championship. Lee carded her second straight 6-under, 66 on day two at Oak Valley Country Club and now holds the first 36-hole lead of her Tour career with a trio of players trailing her by two shots. Her two-day total of 132 is a new 36-hole tournament scoring record as well as a new career-low for the 24-year-old. After carding two birdies on Nos. 2 and 5 on the front nine and hole ten on the back, the former Stanford Cardinal finished with a flurry, making three birdies in her last four holes to post at -12. While the red numbers are nice, Lee was most pleased to be blemish-free once again in round two and with the weekend on tap in Wonju, Republic of Korea, she’s looking forward to 36 more holes at a place that feels like home and hopes to keep up the consistency she’s shown throughout 2022.
“Another bogey-free round which I'm really pleased with. Hit all the greens, all the fairways and just made some putts out there. Honestly a few of them didn't drop within like ten, 15 feet but overall played really well and hopefully I can keep it going this weekend,” said Lee, who hit 13 of 14 fairways and 16 of 18 greens in the second round. “I really love the golf course here. The greens are really fast and firm, which I think plays to my advantage. My home course is pretty hilly, too, Palos Verdes Golf Club so I'm used to these hilly lies that you see out here at Oak Valley so I think that's also going to play to my strength as well.”
The threesome tied for second at -10 features three-time Epson Tour winner and graduate Lilia Vu, two-time LPGA Tour winner and rookie Atthaya Thitikul and Korean amateur Minsol Kim. Vu has had a solid season thus far, carding six top-10s with a best finish of solo third that came at the Bank of Hope LPGA Match-Play presented by MGM Rewards, and her 36-hole total of 134 ties her third-lowest on the LPGA Tour which she last shot at the AmazingCre Portland Classic. Though Vu was incredibly pleased with her Friday play and is happy to see her game continue to trend upwards as she looks to become a Rolex First-Time Winner, the highlight of her day was being paired with Lee and A Lim Kim, a fun grouping that led to some great golf.
“It's always really fun to play with Andrea, and A Lim was also in the group and she's hilarious. We had a great time. I think we laughed basically the whole entire round,” said Vu. “I’m just trying to hit good shots, that's it. Not think too far ahead, just what's in front of me and play golf and have fun. Grateful that I'm here in Korea. I'm having a great time.”
Thitikul led following the first round of the BMW Ladies Championship after an opening, 9-under 63 that set a new 18-hole tournament scoring record, but Oak Valley gave her some fits on the back nine during the second round. The 19-year-old made her first bogey of the tournament on the par-3, 12th and then followed it up with a double-bogey on the par-4, 13th. However, always one to fight until the finish, Thitikul then went birdie-eagle on holes 14 and 15, an effort that was good enough to finish at -1 on the day, putting her in a tie for second and two shots back.
“It's been a roller coaster back nine. I think it's not a big deal because you just know that you missed it. It's normal for golf, and just keep trying more on the next hole, and not thinking about the past because you can't do anything with the past. So you just try to keep doing better on the present,” said Thitikul. “Seems like today is not my day. This is my goal, as well: if it's not your day, how you're going to bounce back, how you're going to keep it in contention as much as you can.”
Playing in the final group of an LPGA Tour event for the first time can be intimidating, but Minsol Kim (a) was able to rise to the challenge. The amateur recorded a respectable 2-under, 70 with three bogeys, three birdies, and an eagle on the card on Friday and said that she didn’t feel any more pressure because of the large crowds following her. “I think I just found the whole situation really amusing,” Kim explained. “We had a really large crowd and there are a lot of cameras so I just found that situation really amazing. I got a lot of positive energy from the crowd.”
Seventeen-time LPGA Tour winner Lydia Ko and Korean LPGA Tour rookie Yaeeun Hong are in a tie for fifth at -8, four back of the lead with Ko carding back-to-back rounds of 68. Australian major champion Hannah Green sits in solo seventh at 7 under with a trio of players tied for eighth at 6 under, including Koreans Hye-Jin Choi and Hyo Joo Kim as well as LET winner Emily Kristine Pedersen.