The afternoon weather turned nice on Friday at Aronimink and Sei Young Kim came to life with a record-tying 29 over her final nine holes that gave her the halfway lead at the Women’s PGA Championship.
Kim played the back nine first and made the turn in over-over par 37 but she lit it up on the front with six birdies, including four straight starting at the fourth. She tied Jennifer Kupcho for low round of the week with a five-under par 65 that gave her the solo lead at four-under par.
“When we entered the front nine, the wind kind of slowed down and it was kind of easier to attack with my irons,” she said. Her 28 on the front tied Karrie Webb (2001) and Sarah Kemp (2011) for the lowest nine-hole score in the Women’s PGA Championship.
“The birdie on 14 was pretty good because it was a long birdie putt, and that’s when I started the four-birdie streak,” Kim said. “So I think that really helped me with momentum and finishing strong.”
The other big news on Friday was the withdrawal of world’s No. 2 Nelly Korda, who was suffering from back discomfort and headed home to South Florida for treatment. ANA Inspiration winner Mirim Lee also withdrew with an undisclosed injury.
Here’s how the contenders are lined up behind Kim:
Three-Under Par (137):
Jennifer Kucho (72-65): Played in the morning wave in cooler temps. Her 65 set the early pace until Kim finished late, just before darkness. Strong player in her second year on tour.
Danielle Kang (68-68): World’s No. 3 is in position to win her second PGA title. She won this event in 2017.
Anna Nordqvist (68-68): One of the most experienced players in contention. Should be a factor over the weekend.
Carlota Ciganda (68-69): Spain’s best player in search of her first major.
Two-Under Par (138):
Lydia Ko (68-70): Strongest player in the group at two-under. Looking for her third major. Should be in the hunt come Sunday.
Kelly Tan (67-71): Was atop the scoreboard on day one, wasn’t as sharp on Friday but still a solid two days of work at Aronimink.
Linnea Strom (68-70): Another player who is looking for her first major.
Lauren Stephenson (70-68): One of the surprise contenders.
Ashleigh Buhai (70-68): South African star who is getting more attention.
One-Under Par (139):
In Gee Chun (72-67): One of the many players who performed well in the warmer afternoon temps.
Jodi Ewart Shadoff (72-67): English star looking for a major.
Brittany Lincicome (67-72): Wasn’t as sharp on day two as she was on Thursday.
A total of 13 players are under par at the halfway mark, another five finished at even par 140 including Moriya Jutanugarn, Jennifer Song, world No. 4 Brooke Henderson, Hall of Famer Inbee Park and Gaby Lopez.
Best comeback of the tournament was by defending champion Hannah Green. Green opened with an ugly 79 but bounced back big on Friday with a four-under par 66 that helped her make the cut and she’ll be around for the weekend. The 36-hole cut came at six-over par, 146.