Danielle Kang rode a wave of birdies to a blistering 66, the low round of the day, to grab the second-round lead on Friday at the midway point at the LPGA Mediheal Championship at Lake Merced Golf Club in Daly City, Calif.
Kang sits at seven under through 36 holes on the strength of seven birdies in her best round since the final round of the Honda LPGA Thailand in early May.
Laurem Kim shot a 69 to pull into a second-place tie at six under with Ireland’s Leona Maguire, who followed her opening-round 65 with a one-over 73 on Friday.
Min Lee of Chinese Taipei sits in fourth place after scoring a 69 in a wild round that included eight birdies and five bogeys. Jenny Coleman (69), Jane Park (71), Alison Lee (72) and Matilda Castren of Finland (69) form the foursome tied for fifth after two rounds at four under.
Kang, 28, began her round quietly with just one birdie, on the par-three third hole, and six pars through her first seven holes. She finished the front nine with consecutive birdies, starting a stretch of six in her final 11 holes.
“I actually played really well from the beginning, better than I did on the back nine,” Kang said afterwards. “I just couldn’t quite get the ball to the hole, but I knew I was putting well.
“The greens are slick and fast, and being poa it’s just a little scary, a little bumpy. You have to trust your lines, and that’s what I have been doing. Just kept putting the way I did and started dropping on the back nine.”
The 26-year-old Maguire, still looking for her first LPGA title, frittered away her first-round lead quickly, bogeying the first three holes. But she steadied herself to shoot 2 under for the remainder of the round, keeping her in contention.
“Yeah, I got off to a rough start and bogeyed my first three holes,” said Maguire. “But really proud of how I sort of hung in there and battled back and holed some really nice putts and got some really nice up-and-downs and keep the round going.”
Eleven golfers are locked in a ninth-place tie at three under, including Thailand’s Patty Tavatanakit, winner of the 2021 ANA Inspiration, the season’s first major. Tavatanakit shot a one-under 71 Friday.
Lexi Thompson shot par (72) for the round, leaving her at one under. World No 2 Inbee Park struggled to a 75 on Friday, dropping her to even par for the tournament.