Choi Hye-jin, who plays on the U.S. Women’s Professional Golf (LPGA) Tour, won her second domestic title of the year.
Choi carded five birdies and two bogeys for a 3-under 69 in the second round of the Korea Ladies Professional Golf Association (KLPGA) Tour’s Hana Financial Group Championship ($1.5 billion in prize money) at BearsBest Cheongna Golf Club (Par 72) in Incheon on Sunday.
With a one-stroke lead over the second-place group, Choi has a chance to win another KLPGA Tour event in three months after winning the Lotte Open in June.
Choi, who joined the LPGA Tour last year, hasn’t won on the LPGA Tour in two seasons, but in her two tournaments in Korea this year, she has finished in the top 10, including one victory.
The Lotte Open, which she won, was held at Bears Best Cheongna Golf Club, the same course that will host the Hana Financial Group Championship.
Choi, who also shot a 69 in the first round, was the only player to shoot in the 60s in both the first and second rounds at the long and challenging Bears Best Cheongna Golf Club.
“It’s a course I have good memories of,” Choi said. So, even though my feelings were not so good, I had hopes that I would come back through this tournament. “I came here with the mindset of trusting my swing, and for the first two days, I played well. I will trust myself and play aggressively the remaining two days.”
But the chase for the title is far from over, with six players in a tie for second, seven in a tie for eighth and four in a tie for 15th.
Choi is just one stroke behind money leader Lee Ye-won, who has two wins this year; Madasom, who won the OK Savings Bank Women’s Open five days ago; long-hitting Bang Shin-sil, who hits the ball the farthest on the KLPGA Tour; Park Hyun-kyung, who is in contention for the title at every event; and Lee So-young, who has six career wins.
Lee, who is 455,803 won short of the 1 billion won mark for the season, is on track to surpass the 1 billion won mark unless she drops out of the tournament.
So far, only seven players on the KLPGA Tour have earned more than 1 billion won in a season: Kim Hyo-ju, Park Sung-hyun, Ko Jin-young, Lee Jeong-eun, Choi Hye-jin, Jang Ha-na, Park Min-ji, and Kim Soo-ji.
Defending champion Kim Soo-ji is two strokes back in a tie for eighth place (4-under 140) after a one-stroke improvement.
Lee “Major Hunter” Yi, who won the KLPGA Championship in April and has seven career victories, Ko “Birdie Bomber” Ko, the McCall Mona Yongpyong Open champion, and Lee Somi, who has five career victories, are also two shots back in a group of eight.
LPGA Tour teammates Patti Thawatanakit and Charaew Boonchan (both of Thailand) also rounded the turn in a tie for eighth, two shots behind Choi.
Also to watch is world No. 7 Minjee Lee, who jumped three strokes to tie for 15th (3-under 141).
Song Ga-eun, who was tied for the lead on day one with Lee So-young and Park Hyun-kyung, dropped two strokes to tie for 15th.
Park, who picked up her third win of the season, shot a 2-under 70 to move into a tie for 19th place at 2-under 142.
Park Min-ji and Lydia Ko (New Zealand), two of the favorites to win, missed the cut at 4-over par 148. 토토