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Apr 26, 2024 11:38 pm

Grace Kim extends lead at LA Championship

Grace Kim

Grace Kim expanded her lead to four strokes on Friday as the JM Eagle LA Championship reached its midpoint in Los Angeles.

The Australian shot the best round of the day for the second consecutive round at Wilshire Country Club, carding a 5-under-par 66 to go to 12-under 130, four shots better than second-place Maja Stark. The Swede is at 8 under following a 69 on Friday.

Defending champion Hannah Green of Australia (second-round 69) and Germany’s Esther Henseleit (68) are tied for third at 6 under.

Auston Kim (71) and Denmark’s Emily Kristine Pedersen (67) share fifth place at 5 under. Tied for seventh at 4 under are Rose Zhang (69), Thailand’s Chanettee Wannasaen (73) and South Koreans Haeran Ryu (72) and Sei Young Kim (73).

Grace Kim started her day on the back nine, and she bogeyed the par-3 12th hole. That was her final mistake of the day. She immediately rebounded with an eagle on the par-5 13th hole, then birdied the par-4 14th hole, and she added three more birdies on the front nine.

“I think majority of (the birdies) were more putting close to the pin,” Grace Kim said. “I did have one long putt that I holed, but other than that, yeah, just got to try and keep it close to the pins so then you have more of a chance of not having to bump across too many bumps.”

The 23-year-old said of entering the weekend with a lead, “I think I’ve got to breathe a little bit. I did get a little bit nervous on my probably back nine, so making sure I don’t rush too much and, yeah, just staying in the present probably.”

Stark had a relatively steady day, making one birdie and one bogey on the front nine, then adding consecutive birdies at Nos. 12 and 13.

“My shorter putting has been better these past two weeks,” she said. “But just I feel way more comfortable on the greens right now. Just like from 6 through 15 feet, it’s kind of where I’ve taken a big step up.”

Green’s wild round featured six birdies and four bogeys.

Green said of returning as the defending champion, “Everyone is coming up to me and (saying), ‘Hey, champ, hey defending champ,’ which is really nice. … Obviously I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself. The scores are not quite what I thought they were.”

Henseleit charged into contention with two sets of back-to-back birdies on either side of her lone bogey.

–Field Level Media

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