Top-ranked Sung Hyun Park tied for Kia Classic lead
CARLSBAD, Calif. (AP) — Sung Hyun Park shot a 6-under 66 on Friday at the Kia Classic to take a share of the lead into the weekend.
The top-ranked South Korean star birdied four of the first five holes on her back nine in her second straight bogey-free round at Aviara Golf Club. The Singapore winner last month, she also had a share of the second-round lead last week in Phoenix in the Founders Cup before fading.
“Overall, I’m pretty happy with my play today, especially the bogey-free two days in a row,” Park said through a translator. “The course is not easy actually. The fairways are pretty narrow and the greens are very soft and line is pretty hard to see for me.”
Thidapa Suwannapura also had a 66 to match Park at 10-under 134 in the in the final event before the major ANA Inspiration next week in Rancho Mirage. The Thai player also is bogey-free through 36 holes.
“Those greens are not that easy,” Suwannapura said. “Just play solid and hopefully keep making birdies.”
Inbee Park and first-round leader Chella Choi were a stroke back.
Inbee Park had a bogey-free 67 after making two late bogeys in an opening 68.
“It was a really good day out there,” she said. “My putter really worked well. Hit the ball pretty solid last couple days. It has been like that actually this year. I’ve been pretty happy with the ball-striking. Just my putter wasn’t working for the last couple events.”
Choi rallied after bogeying two of the first five holes.
“I tried to be patient and focus on shot by shot,” Choi said. “Really good comeback.”
Third-ranked Minjee Lee, the 2017 winner, had a 69 to join Mariajo Uribe at 7 under. Uribe also shot 69.
Azahara Munoz (68) and Gaby Lopez (70) were 6 under.
Stacy Lewis was 5 under after a 68 in her third tournament since the birth of daughter Chesnee in late October. She missed the cut last week in Phoenix after tying for sixth in the opener in Florida in January.
“I have my mom here as help,” Lewis said. “Yesterday morning she kind of allowed me to sleep in a few more hours so my day didn’t start at 6 a.m. like last week. Definitely a little more fresh late yesterday.”
She eagled the par-5 eighth.
“They had the tee up, which helped me out a lot,” Lewis said. “I hit 5-wood and actually almost made it. Went right over the left edge to I guess 6 inches — tap-in eagle. Didn’t hit a good drive on 9 and made bogey. But played really well today. Can’t be too upset.”
Defending champion Eun-Hee Ji also was 5 under after a 70.
Lexi Thompson was even par, following her opening 73 with a 71.