Sei Young Kim has late birdie run to take Women’s PGA lead
NEWTOWN SQUARE, PA (AP) - Sei Young Kim ignored the manually operated leaderboards that were scattered around Aronimink as she made her way into the competition.
"I was in a good moment so I just wanted to ride on it," said Kim.
After sinking birdie by birdie en route to a record lap, Kim could afford to look at the board: her name was on the top.
Kim screwed five of the last six holes when darkness fell in Aronimink on Friday and a 5 under 65 year old and the lead in the second round of the KPMG Women's PGA Championship.
The 27-year-old South Korean finished in the top nine with a 6-under-29. She dropped early strokes on numbers 11 and 12 and made her lone first nine birdie on par-5-16.
"When we got to the top nine, the wind slowed down and it was easier to attack with my irons," she said.
Kim had a 4-under-136 total at a rugged 6,437-yard aronia mink. She joined Karrie Webb (2001) and Sarah Kemp (2011) with the lowest nine-hole score in the women's PGA championship.
"The birdie on the 14th was pretty good because it was a long birdie putt and then I started the four-birdie series," said Kim. "I think that really helped me gain momentum and finish strong."
As a 10-time LPGA Tour winner, Kim is looking for her first big win. She was runner-up at the 2015 KPMG Women's PGA Championship and second at the 2018 Evian Championship.
The last four winners of the tournament led or led after 36 holes.
Jennifer Kupcho, 65, Danielle Kang, 69, Carlota Ciganda, 69, and Anna Nordqvist, 68, were back with a stroke.
Kupcho finished second in the ShopRite LPGA Classic last weekend and said one run in the championship wore her out.
23-year-old Kupcho hit all 18 greens in regulation.
Kupcho - winner of the first Augusta National Women's Amateur - has not yet carried over the success of her acclaimed college career to the LPGA Tour. She was the No. 1 amateur at Wake Forest and won the NCAA Division I Golf Championship in 2018. She didn't make it four times in the majors, including the last two women's British Open.
At Aronimink, Kupcho returned to what worked for her in college. After talking to her parents, she decided to use the Ping i210 irons, which she played with as an amateur.
Kupcho, who also brought a new caddy in Kyle Alexander, only played nine times at Aronimink and found that ignorance of the sloping greens could have worked to her advantage.
"When I went into last week I wasn't prepared, as if I felt completely unprepared," she said. “I felt the same way this week. I didn't feel like I was ready to play this type of golf course. I think not being prepared brings another challenge for me and I think that helps me play well. "
Kang, the 2017 KPMG women's PGA championship winner, is also looking for her second career major. If she gets it, it will come on one of the tougher courses on the tour this season.
Imagining herself participating in a putting competition with her brother to loosen up and stabilize her short game, Kang promptly sank a 15-foot boat to close the 12th hole.
"There is no right shot, but there are wrong mistakes," she said. “That creates the opportunity for really tough ups and downs. A couple of times I got a really good shot and was punished for getting a good shot, but I just didn't think hard enough not to hit him there. "
Ciganda, a 30-year-old Spanish woman, suffered a long bout of COVID-19 earlier this year that quarantined her in her Arizona apartment for at least a month. She said that at least three tests were positive during this period and that after her first negative, it took at least another month and a half to really feel completely healthy. A two-time LPGA Tour winner, Ciganda suffered from memory problems, fatigue, and weight loss during her ordeal.
"I'm happy to be back playing and feeling pretty good again," she said.
World number 2 Nelly Korda was out with a back injury after shooting a 71 in the opening round. ANA Inspiration winner Mirim Lee also retired due to an injury.
Su Oh, at 5 a.m. at the time, maybe had the shot of the day on the 16th when she tossed one out of the bunker on the green side and sank the first eagle of the tournament.
In the second round, only 13 players are below average.
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