South Korea’s Sei Young Kim grabbed a one-shot lead at the Buick LPGA Shanghai with a second-round 67 on Friday.
Kim, now 10 under for the tournament, was 5 under in the second round and one shot ahead of American Danielle Kang, who shot 68, and first-round leader Ariya Jutanugarn (Thailand). Junatugarn shot 69 to sit one ahead of England’s Bronte Law and Americans Brittany Lincicome and Brittany Altomare, all at 7 under for the tournament.
Kim is leading a tournament entering the weekend for the 10th time. She said leaving her homeland where pressure was around every dogleg at the Hana Bank Championship in Incheon last week has helped her focus on the task at hand.
“When I’m thinking too much I play really bad. Last week I play in my country, I was too much thinking,” said Kim, a seven-time LPGA winner. “I got pressure especially in my country. I too much wanted to win that tournament; that’s the reason why I played not good. This week I’m trying to empty my mind and then trying simple my mindset and then just go for it.”
Jutanugarn, who leads the ROLEX Player of the Year standings, couldn’t have asked for a better start Friday. She holed out for eagle with a 9-iron from 151 yards on the first hole. Jutanugarn has never won a tournament in Asia, and slipped back with a pair of bogeys on the front nine before carding three birdies over a four-hole stretch on the back nine.
Kang enjoys spotlight
“I like being — I mean, everyone knows me. I like attention,” Kang said. “I like being in the final group. I like having crowds. So it’s fun. At the end of the day, you just enjoy. You work hard to be in the final groups and work hard to be in the hunt and be the leader and chasing the leaders. That’s why we play.”
American Paula Creamer, playing on a sponsor’s invite, remains in contention after a 71 on Friday. The 32-year-old is alone in 11th place at 5 under, one shot back of American Angel Yin, who shot the low round of the tournament with a 65 on Friday. Yin is at 6 under along with Spain’s Carlota Ciganda, Australia’s Minjee Lee and Yu Liu, the LPGA Tour rookie who is the leading player from China through two rounds.
Top-ranked Sung Hyun Park of South Korea carded a 2 under 70 on Friday and is in a tie for 24th as she attempts to fend of Jutanugarn for the year-end No. 1 spot. Also at 1 under is American Nelly Korda and ninth-ranked Shanshan Feng, who last year became the first Chinese player to ascend to No. 1.
Wenbo Liu, a 17-year-old who plays on the CLPGA, is in a tie for 12th at 4 under along with former No. 1 So Yeon Ryu of South Korea and Australia’s Su Oh.
England’s Charley Hull withdrew from the tournament before the start of the second round due to illness.
–Field Level Media