PITTSFORD, N.Y. (AP) — Two South Koreans, a virtuoso and a rookie who share the most common surname in pro golf, shared a two-stroke lead heading into weekend play at the Wegmans LPGA.
Newcomer In-Kyung Kim, whose best finish was a tie for fourth at last month’s Corning Classic, fired a 5-under 67 Friday to join eight-time tour winner Mi Hyun Kim (68) atop the leaderboard after two rounds at the Locust Hill course.
Mi Hyun Kim, a 30-year-old native of Inchon, had five birdies through 11 holes but lost momentum with four holes left when she three-putted from 30 feet for her only bogey. Her 19-year-old compatriot ran off six birdies, but gave up the outright lead with a three-putt bogey on the last hole.
“I’m still having fun, and I have two more days to go,” said In-Kyung Kim, who grew up in Seoul. “I think right now I’m in a good position and I can try to win this weekend.”
Both moved to 7-under 137, two ahead of Angela Stanford (69), who stayed in contention despite a double-bogey finish.
Stanford, a 29-year-old player from Fort Worth, Texas, whose sole victory came at the ShopRite LPGA Classic in 2003, has earned $316,663 in 11 starts this year. It was highlighted by third-place ties at the SemGroup Championship in May and the MasterCard Classic in March.
“It’s been a great year,” Stanford said. “The putter is coming around.”
Lorena Ochoa of Mexico, who tops the money list with $1.25 million, shot a 71 to move to 4 under alongside Lindsey Wright.
First-round leader Cristie Kerr picked up birdies on Nos. 2 and 3 to get to 8 under but struggled on the back nine with two bogeys and a double bogey to finish with a 75 — 3 under for the tournament.
Norway’s Suzann Pettersen (75), who captured her first major title at the LPGA Championship two weeks ago, also lost ground with a double bogey on No. 12 and a two-shot penalty for slow play on No. 14 to drop to 1 under. Defending champion Jeong Jang (73) was at even par.
The $1.8 million tournament, sandwiched between two majors, drew 47 of the top 50 money winners, but two dropped out with injuries. Natalie Gulbis, who opened with a 78, withdrew on the third hole due to recurring back pain. Stacy Prammanasudh left Thursday with a thumb injury.
South Koreans make up 45 of the 117 non-Americans in the LPGA — including nine named Kim — and In-Kyung Kim expects even more to join next year.
“Hopefully it’s not like going to be K-LPGA,” she said, laughing.
She demonstrated pinpoint accuracy off both tees and fairways and made three long putts for birdie from 25 feet on No. 9 and from 20 feet on Nos. 5 and 12. She missed the cut in four of her first six tournaments but has stayed through the weekend in the past five, tying for 21st at the LPGA Championship.
Mi Hyun Kim won the SemGroup Championship, tied for second in Corning, and had two other top-10s this year. She has earned $7.1 million since joining the tour in 1999, including a season-best $1.3 million last year.
She thinks the tight fairways suit her game better than they do for her competitors.
“I have more confidence when I play here because (the) course is not so long,” she said. “I’m not a long hitter, I’m more an accuracy player.”
But she also worries about how she’ll handle the pressure if she’s among the leaders Sunday. “Many people cheering for me, and so I really want to win this tournament,” she said.