It was a tale of swirling winds all day at Seowon Hills, and with a scoring average slightly over par on Friday, it was Minjee Lee who took a two-shot lead at the BMW Ladies Championship through 36 holes. Lee is familiar – and quite comfortable – at the top of leaderboards, as it is the 11th time in her Tour career she’s slept on the second-round lead.
Starting the day two shots back of Ashleigh Buhai’s -10 mark after a first-round 64, Lee took some time to adjust to the conditions, opening with four-straight pars until an unfortunate bogey on the par-4 fifth, but cleaned it up on the seventh after knocking it close to the pin to card her first birdie of Friday. She got a handle on the winds on the back nine, notching two more birdies on No. 11 and 15 after reaching the green in two on the par 5. One last birdie on the closing hole had her signing for a 3-under 69, and recording her lowest 36-hole score since her victory at the 2022 U.S. Women’s Open
“Obviously the par-5s, a couple of them, you can really be quite aggressive. And I got on for two on -- what is it, like 15? So that was nice. It was a two-putt birdie. And the -- I got pretty close, I just tugged it a little bit, but I only had like a 40-meter shot into the par-5 before. So I think I just tried to take as much advantage as I could when the wind was behind us,” said Lee. “And obviously the birdie on 18 was just like cherry on top. So it was nice to finish on a good note.”
Lee is coming off her first win of the year at the Kroger Queen City Championship presented by P&G, after defeating Charley Hull in a two-hole playoff, and a T13 at last week’s Buick LPGA Shanghai. A win in the Republic of Korea would be special for the 27-year-old, whose parents are both from the country. “I have a really deep heritage here. So I always love coming back and playing,” said Lee. “Being at the top of the leaderboard is always nice, and being in contention is always my goal. So hopefully I can have a great weekend.”
The 18-hole leader Buhai faltered a bit on the second day, following up a first-round 62 with a 1-over 73 on Friday to sit a tie for second with Alison Lee at -9. Buhai started strong, posting three birdies in her first 11 holes on No. 2, 8 and 11, hitting every green in regulation and fairway through that stretch. But four bogeys in her closing six holes, including three straight on Nos. 13-15, derailed her chances of keeping the BMW Ladies Championship lead.
“I think that is one of the toughest days I've ever had on a golf course in terms of the wind switching. I've never played any round where the wind just switched that much. I think I did really well on the front nine. Stayed very patient,” said Buhai. “And I did the same on the back nine, and it was just the case of I picked a shot and the wind literally switched. So, you know, I did what I intended to do. I committed to my swing thoughts, and that's all I can do.”
Sitting in fourth and three shots back of Lee’s lead is defending champion Lydia Ko along with Jeongeun Lee6 and Hae Ran Ryu, who all shot under par rounds on day two to get to -8. This is Ryu’s first time back in the Rep. of Korea since becoming a Rolex First-Time Winner at the 2023 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, and her first time playing the BMW Ladies Championship as an LPGA Tour Member after appearing in the event in 2021 and finishing T7. Though it wasn’t the perfect round she was hoping for, Ryu said she’s still happy she kept her day under par and in contention in her home country.
“I think nothing was working for me today, not at all. But at least I got two birdies when I thought I wasn't going to get any,” said Ryu, whose two birdies came at Nos. 10 and 15. “I think towards the end my iron shot got better, but the wind was really weird today, so it was really difficult to make any birdie opportunities. So I was happy to get the first one. And the second one was a par-5, so, you know, there was absolutely no question that I had to get a birdie there.”
Last week’s Buick LPGA Shanghai victor Angel Yin is tied with Yan Liu at -7, with LPGA Tour winners Nelly Korda, Celine Boutier and Jodi Ewart Shadoff sitting in a tie for ninth at -6. Rolex Rankings No. 1 Lilia Vu closed with a double bogey on 18 to settle for a second-round 76 and in a tie for 57th at +1 overall. World No. 2 Ruoning Yin is among a tie for 21st at -4.