June 4, 2017: Although South Korea’s In-Kyung Kim fell down the stairs at the end of 2016, causing her to miss a good chunk of the early part of this season, she did nothing but climb up the leaderboard Saturday at the Shoprite LPGA Classic presented by ACER.
Even with two bogeys on the card Saturday, her 4-under-par 67 was enough to have her tied for the lead through two rounds at 9-under.
Although Kim couldn’t pinpoint exactly why she had played so well through two rounds at the Stockton Seaview Golf Club – she said Saturday she just “loves coming here” – she said she managed her game well.
“The wind was blowing less and the greens were really pure this morning,” she explained. “The par-5s I managed well yesterday and today. The par-3s are tough but I gave it my best.”
Kim closed out her second round with back-to-back birdies and although she won on the LPGA Tour in 2016, she suffered a freak accident falling down the stairs and had to spend most of the winter rehabbing.
She’s only played six tournaments so far in 2017, but said she recovered well and has become ‘even stronger’ after her injury.
“This winter I didn’t have any break, I needed some time to get ready for the summer,” she stated. “I’m really happy to get back.”
Also at 9-under is Paula Creamer, looking for her first LPGA Tour victory in three years. Creamer, whose last victory came in March of 2014 in a playoff at the HSBC Women’s Champions, fired her best 36-hole total of 2017 through two rounds. Her best finish of the year was a tie for 30th at this year’s HSBC Women’s Champions, and she’s struggled with three missed cuts and one withdrawal.
“It feels good. It’s been a while, that’s for sure,” said Creamer of her performance of late. “My team, we’ve just been working so hard. I feel good. I feel prepared. I knew there was a time I was going to breakthrough. It just shows these last two days have been good golf.
“Whatever happens tomorrow happens, but I feel like my golf game is in a good place,” she continued.
Two-time defending champion Anna Nordqvist struggled Saturday with an even-par 71. She’s tied for third – and only two shots back – with In-Kyung Kim and Moriya Jutanugarn.
Nordqvist said the wind was making things difficult Saturday.
“Overall I feel like I played a little bit better than I scored,” Nordqvist said. “I’m still in it. It was just a hard afternoon with the wind.”
Jutanugarn’s sister Ariya, although not in the field this week, will overtake Lydia Ko on the top of the Rolex Rankings. The only way she wouldn’t have jumped into that position is if So Yeon Ryu finished third or better in a variety of combinations. Ryu, though, was tied for 94th through two rounds and missed the cut.
Moriya, meanwhile, said she’s been playing some solid golf so far.
“I was very patient out there today. The winds picked up in the afternoon and the greens started to get bumpy with a lot more people walking around. I just have to be patient,” she said. “It’s hang in there today, and then tomorrow if I have a solid day it would be good for me.
India’s Aditi Ashok did not make the cut and had an early exit after scoring 8-over-par 79 in the second round.
Americans Jacqui Concolino and Jennifer Song are one shot further back at 6-under and tied for sixth. Song was even par today, while Concolino was tied for the low round of the day, a 5-under-par 66.
Sweden’s Pernilla Lindberg also fired a Saturday 66 and is a 5-under for the tournament, while Azahara Munoz, Bronte Law, Sandra Gal, Jenny Shin, and Brooke Henderson are all 5-under as well.
The weather forecast is calling for sunny but windy conditions once again, but with a bunched leaderboard for the final round – as 17 golfers are within five shots of the lead – it could be a Sunday shootout.