Kim A-lim leads weather-hit LPGA Chevron Championship

South Korea’s Kim A-lim closed with back-to-back birdies to grab the lead on Friday in the weather-hit second round of the LPGA Chevron Championship, the first women’s golf major of the year.

Kim had eight birdies in her seven-under par 65 on the Jack Nicklaus Signature course at The Woodlands near Houston, Texas.

She capped her round with birdies at the eighth and ninth holes, rolling in a putt from off the green at the eighth then sticking her approach shot at the ninth inches from the cup for a tap-in and the outright lead on eight-under par 136.

The round, delayed two hours after heavy rain, was halted by darkness and was to resume Saturday morning.

Kim was one stroke ahead of Americans Megan Khang and Lilia Vu.

Vu had made the most of the rain-softened course to card a three-under par 69 on Friday morning and was joined on seven-under 137 by Khang, who completed her bogey-free five-under par 67 as darkness fell.

“It was pretty good,” Kim said of her finish, noting she thought the front nine played easier than the back.

Kim is chasing a second major title in the Houston area. She won the 2020 US Women’s Open at Champions Golf Club in the Texas city.

“Fantastic,” she said of putting herself in position to challenge for another major in the Lone Star State, although she admitted she didn’t know just why she thrived in Houston.

Vu started the day one shot behind first-round leader Chien Peiyun and held the clubhouse lead for much of the day.

Former major winners Patty Tavatanakit of Thailand and world number two Nelly Korda of the United States were in the clubhouse on six-under.

“Really happy to finish today,” said Vu, who had four of her six birdies on the front nine.

Korda, in search of a second major title after her 2021 Women’s PGA Championship victory, had five birdies and three bogeys in her two-under 70.

“There are bogeys out there and you try to minimize your mistakes as much as possible,” she said. “I was punching the air a couple of times after my two three-putts, which are kind of stupid mistakes, but you just kind of have to stay mentally tough and know that there are some birdie opportunities as well.”

– Kupcho struggles –

Tavatanakit, who led all the way in winning the 2021 Chevron Championship — when the tournament was played at its iconic former home in Rancho Mirage, California — had seven birdies in her five-under 67.

She birdied five on the front nine, and rebounded from two bogeys with a birdie-birdie finish to join Korda on six-under 138.

Taiwan’s Chien was among the late starters and opened her round with a bogey at the first hole.

She followed birdies at the 12th and 13th with a bogey at 14 and was five-under for the tournament through 14 when play was halted.

World number one Lydia Ko of New Zealand, who began the day four shots off the lead, was three-over through her first six holes thanks in part to a damaging double-bogey seven at the par-five fourth.

She added a bogey at the 15th and was looking at a missed cut.

Defending champion Jennifer Kupcho was also well outside the cut line after a six-over 78 that included a double bogey and a triple bogey. — Agence France-Presse

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