Sei Young Kim’s record-tying 29 vaults her atop packed board at KPMG Women’s PGA
NEWTOWN SQUARE, PA. - As darkness fell on Aronimink, Sei Young Kim's fire lit the board as she put the finishing touches to a 5-under-65. Kim banged four holes in a row (# 4-7) to shoot 6-under 29 on the top nine and take the lead halfway through the KPMG Women's PGA at 4-under 136.
The 27-year-old Kim, who won ten times at the LPGA without major titles, has to end up outside the top 25 in five appearances at this championship. She finished second after Inbee Park in 2015 and fourth in 2017.
Kim's 29 is the record for the women's PGA. At the 2018 BMW Championship, both Tiger Woods and Justin Thomas shot to the top nine in soft conditions in Aronimink 29.
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It was anything but soft on that autumn Friday afternoon.
RESULTS: KPMG Women's PGA Championship
When asked if she was ready to win a major, Kim said, "It's always my goal."
Thirteen players finished the first two rounds under par. Four players follow Kim in one fell swoop, including Danielle Kang, Anna Nordqvist, Jennifer Kupcho and Carlota Ciganda.
Big winners Lydia Ko, Brittany Lincicome and In Gee Chun are within three strokes.
Nordqvist won this tournament in 2009 as a rookie on the LPGA. She did not have full status for the event as she had only made four professional starts before.
“I remember teeing off at 6:30 am or so on Thursday morning,” said Nordqvist, “and then playing in the last group on Sunday. That was a big moment because it was asked if I should stay in school or quit school but I followed my heart and went the pro way and I think winning because I knew I would be in the next would have been on tour for three years, that was huge for me. "
Nordqvist is one of three players from the US state of Arizona in the rankings, along with Swedish compatriot Linnea Strom (-2) and Spanish Ciganda (-3).
Annika Sorenstam turned 50 on October 9th, and both Nordqvist and Strom considered what the LPGA legend meant for them personally.
"I started playing golf when I was 13," said Nordqvist, "so I think it would have been back in 2000, which was probably her peak year." So it was great to grow up and have a role model from Sweden at the top of the world and it was just a lot of inspiration. "
Sorenstam retired a year before Nordqvist's tour, but played for Sorenstam on the Solheim Cup team and lived in the same Lake Nona community for years.
The 23-year-old Strom met Sorenstam at a camp in Sweden when he was 12 and won the ANNIKA Invitational Europe in 2012.
"It's always been a great motivation what she did," said Strom, who won the Symetra Tour in 2018 and was a rookie on the LPGA last season.
LPGA Hall of Famer Inbee Park and Brooke Henderson, both former champions of the event, are four hits back.
Kupcho, Augusta Women's Amateur 2019 winner, faced Kims 65, as did LPGA rookie Bianca Pagdanganan, who bounced back from an opening 77. Pagdanganan currently leads the LPGA at a distance of 287 meters.
The LPGA player receives a two-stroke penalty for playing slowly in the major - and misses the cut by one
Augusta national star Jennifer Kupcho is next to Danielle Kang in third place again at the top of KPMG
Nelly Korda withdraws from the KPMG Women's PGA Championship due to an injury
Brittany Lincicome co-heads the Women's PGA while Lydia Ko and Danielle Kang 1 lurk back
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