AFP/Washington, United States
Fourth-ranked Danielle Kang overcame three bogeys in the last six holes to claim a share of the lead after Saturday’s second round of the LPGA Drive On Championship.
The 27-year-old American, whose past two wins came at Shanghai in 2018 and 2019, fired a one-over par 73 to join France’s Celine Boutier and England’s Jodi Ewart Shadoff for the lead on five-under 139 through 36 holes at Iverness Club in Toledo, Ohio.
The 54-hole tournament, being played without spectators, marks the return event for the tour since being shut down by Covid-19 in February after playing only four championships.
Japan’s Yui Kawamoto and American Sarah Schmelzel shared fourth on 141 with Australia’s Minjee Lee, South Africa’s Lee-Anne Pace and Americans Amy Olson and Sarah Burnham another stroke adrift.
Kang, who led Ewart Shadoff by a shot when the rainy day began, made a bogey at the seventh but bounced back with birdies at the 11th and par-3 12th, blasting out of a greenside bunker on the latter and rolling the ball into the cup.
Three bogeys in a row followed, with Kang saying she thought, “I’ve got three holes. I can get some shots back.”
“I knew I was getting a bit hasty so I calmed down and started walking a little bit slower,” she added.
It paid off with a birdie at the 17th and a closing par to keep a share of the lead, something coach Butch Harmon would have appreciated.
“He always tells me to stay positive and keep working on your game and that’s what I did,” Kang said.
Boutier, who shot 71, took advantage of the chance to play while waiting out the virus hiatus in her Texas home. She won the Women’s Texas Open in June, defeating a field with 10 LPGA players, and then won an event in Paris, Texas.
“It was definitely something that I was purposeful about, playing within like a decent amount of range before the first tournament on the LPGA so I wasn’t too rusty before I started,” Boutier said.
“It also kept me motivated to practice. You know when you don’t have tournaments for three months, sometimes you don’t even want to go to the course. The fact I had something to look forward to, some kind of competition going, was kind of nice.”
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