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Jun 28, 2024 9:17 pm

Five teams share lead at LPGA’s Dow Championship

grace kim

Two teams that were tied for the lead after the opening 18 holes of the Dow Championship were joined by three more on Friday for a five-way tie at the midpoint in Midland, Mich.

Australia’s Grace Kim recorded the first hole-in-one of her life as the 23-year-old Australian and American teammate Auston Kim carded a 9-under-par 61 in the four-ball (best-ball) format to share the lead at 12-under 128.

The Danish duo of Nicole Broch Estrup and Nanna Koerstz Madsen carded a 10-under 60 — the second-lowest round of the day — to reach 12 under at Midland Country Club. They posted one eagle, nine birdies and one bogey.

Ssu-Chia Cheng and Wei-Ling Hsu of Taiwan carded a bogey-free 63 — with one eagle and five birdies. They have just one bogey through 36 holes.

They are the three new co-leading teams, joining Americans Jennifer Kupcho and Ally Ewing, and the all-Thailand team of Chanettee Wannasaen and Jaravee Boonchant.

Kupcho and Ewing went bogey-free while carding six birdies. Wannasaen and Boonchant did the same.

“Jen played really solid,” Ewing said. “We had a lot of good looks, I think, which when you’re playing best ball like that, if you both have birdie putts, that’s really big, and she made several birdies today. It was good to see another good score, especially in best ball.”

The only official team event on the LPGA schedule, the Dow Championship had players compete in foursomes (alternate shot) on Thursday and will do so again Saturday. The field plays four-ball (best ball) in the second and final rounds.

Grace Kim used a 7-iron to hole out from 145 yards at the par-3 seventh hole.

“I hit a three-quarter 7-iron,” said Kim, in her second season on the LPGA Tour. “The wind was off the left, so I was like, 8 is not going to get there.

“I was obviously just trying to put it close. All I see is it disappear. I’ve had a lot of close shaves, and this is actually my first one, so it’s very exciting. Everyone was really happy for me, so it was very nice to share that moment.”

Kim and Kim, called “Team 2K” in the event, followed a first-round 67 with the 61 featuring the ace, eight birdies and one bogey to move up from a tie for ninth.

Koerstz Madsen, in her first career start at the Dow Championship, and Broch Estrup, in her first start of the 2024 LPGA Tour season, jumped from a tie for 16th to first.

“We just had a good vibe going,” Broch Estrup said. “Nanna holed a chip early on (No.) 3, the par-5, to get an eagle, and we just — apart from No. 2 when Nanna hit it really close, then I made like a 10-footer for birdie, and she was like, ‘Oh, we shouldn’t do this, we shouldn’t make birdie on the same hole,’ and I’m like, ‘Just chill.’ From there, we kind of — yeah, we did really well in not birdieing the same holes.”

Grace Kim wasn’t the only play to record an ace on Friday, as Japan’s Hinako Shibuno notched the second of her career. Shibuno used an 8-iron at the par-3, 143-yard 18th hole.

The low round of the day, a 12-under 58 from France’s Celine Boutier and teammate Yuka Saso of Japan, tied the tournament record for 18 holes of four-ball. South Koreans Jin Young Ko and Minjee Lee set the mark in 2019. Seven teams have posted rounds in the 50s in the event’s four edition.

Two top-12 players in the world, Ruoning Yin of China and Atthaya Thitikul of Thailand, shared the lead after the opening round but slid to a tie for ninth at 10 under after a 66 on Friday.

–Field Level Media

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