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Hee Young Yang leaps to share lead after second day at Women’s PGA Championship

U.S. Women’s Professional Golf (LPGA) Tour veteran Hee Young Yang jumped to a share of the lead after the second day of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship ($10.4 million), the third major of the season.

The South Korean carded four birdies and no bogeys in the second round of the tournament at the par-72 Sahali Country Club in West Sammamish, Washington, U.S., on Wednesday (Sept. 22).

Her first- and second-round totals of 6-under 138 put her atop the leaderboard with Sarah Schmelzel (USA).

Yang’s performance at this event is crucial as she looks to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

Currently ranked 25th in the world, she needs to finish in the top 15 in the Women’s Golf World Ranking after the tournament to qualify for the Olympics.

Yang, who has five wins on the LPGA Tour, has not won since the CME Group Tour Championship last November and has slipped outside the top 15 in the world rankings.

Yang holed a putt from 2.5 meters on the sixth (par-5) for her first birdie of the tournament and then dropped another shot on the seventh (par-4) with a chip shot that left 13 meters in the rough next to the green.

Hee-young Yang then sank a 4-meter birdie putt on the 15th (par-4) to move into a share of second place.

On the 18th (par-5), she hit her third shot to 99 yards and left it 50 centimeters from the hole for an easy birdie to take the lead.

“The fairways were very hard, so it was difficult,” Yang said, but she was the only player to go bogey-free in the second round.

South Korean women’s golf ace Ko Jin-young was also strong.

The world No. 7 carded five birdies and one bogey to shave four strokes off her score and move into a tie for third place at 4-under-par 140.

She was joined in a three-way tie for third by Lexi Thompson (USA) and Hinako Shibuno (JPN), who announced her retirement after this season.

Starting on the 10th hole, Ko got off to a good start with back-to-back birdies on the 10th (par-4) and 11th (par-5).

He added three more birdies on the back nine and remained bogey-free through the seventh.

He made his only bogey of the second round on the eighth (par-4), but followed it up with a par on the ninth (par-3).

“I actually hit better shots yesterday,” said Ko, “but I tried to stay on the fairways and greens and I’m happy with my steady play.”

Ko, who hasn’t won since her 15th LPGA victory at the Cognizant Founders Cup in May last year due to lingering shoulder injuries, is looking for her third major title.

In 2019, Ko won the ANA Inspiration and Evian Championship, the two majors she played in.

“A lot of fans were cheering for Thompson, but there were also people cheering for me, so I was grateful,” said Ko, who played in the same group as the American star for two days.

“The tournament course is difficult, and I focus more on difficult courses,” said Ko, who said she is now free of shoulder pain. “If I win this tournament, I think I will cry on the green.”

Last year’s LPGA Tour rookie of the year, Hae-ran Hae, also shaved five strokes off her score and is tied for sixth at 3-under 141.

Choi Hye-jin is tied for 23rd at 1-over 145 and Sung Yoo-jin is tied for 33rd at 2-over 146.

World No. 24 Shin Ji-ae Shin, an Olympic qualifier, missed the cut after shooting a 9-over-par 153. The cut standard was 5-over par 149.

World No. 1 Nellie Korda (USA), who has six wins this season, also missed the cut after shooting 6-over 150.

After shooting a 69 in the first round, Korda collapsed in the second round with an 81.

Korda’s 81 was the worst score by a world No. 1 player in a major since women’s golf introduced the world ranking system in 2006.

Korda has struggled in her last three tournaments, missing back-to-back cuts. It was the first time since her LPGA debut that she missed the cut in three consecutive events. 파워볼

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