South Korea’s Kim Hyo-joo fired a second straight five-under-par 67 on Thursday to capture the 36-hole lead at the Lotte Championship at windy Hoakalei Country Club in Hawaii.
Kim’s five birdies included three in her last six holes as she pulled three strokes clear of Australia’s Sarah Kemp in search of a fifth LPGA tour title.
“First of all, I’m satisfied,” said Kim, a 26-year-old whose resume includes a Major title at the 2014 Evian Championship. “I played the same score and bogey-free round as yesterday, but I’m more satisfied with today’s play than yesterday.”
Kim, ranked 13th in the world, said she was lucky with the windy weather.
“The wind was fine on the front nine this morning,” she said. “There was strong wind when I turned into back nine, so it made a high level of difficulty. But I think when it’s windy, the front nine is affected by wind more than the back nine.
“So I think I had a little luck that the wind blew in my back nine.”
Kemp chipped in for birdie on the par-four 14th to highlight a three-under-par 69 that left her alone in second place on seven-under 137.
“I had two [chip-ins] yesterday and I couldn’t believe that I had another one today,” Kemp said, adding that the real secret to her round was simply solid play.
“Lots of fairways, greens,” Kemp said. “It was just steady. I hit one fairway bunker short, but just overall really steady.”
Kemp was a stroke in front of Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn and South Korea’s Kang Hae-ji.
Ariya had five birdies in her four-under-par 68 while Kang had four birdies in a two-under 70 for 138.
Overnight leader Hannah Green of Australia slipped 12 shots back with a two-under-par 70 that included six bogeys.
Defending champion Lydia Ko of New Zealand also struggled in the gusty winds, with seven bogeys and four birdies in a three-over 75 that left her 10 off the pace.
Canada’s Brooke Henderson, who won back-to-back titles in 2018 and 2019, withdrew before the second round because of illness.
© Agence France-Presse