Sung Hyun Park takes early clubhouse lead at US Women's Open
ABS-CBN Sports on Jul 09, 2016 08:49 AM
Sung Hyun Park, of South Korea, hits from the 18th tee during the second round of the U.S. Women's Open golf tournament at CordeValle, Friday, July 8, 2016, in San Martin, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
JOSH DUBOW, AP Sports Writer
SAN MARTIN, Calif. (AP) — When Sung Hyun Park entered her first U.S. Women's Open, her goals were modest. Halfway through the tournament, Park has put herself in prime position to contend.
Park capitalized on the favorable morning scoring conditions, shooting a 6-under par 72 Friday to take the early clubhouse lead after the second round of the U.S. Women's Open at CordeValle.
"I didn't even think about winning because this is the first time for me," Park said through an interpreter. "I would like more experience with the USGA, LPGA. But I'm trying to enjoy this tournament. That's why I am just more comfortable, don't even think about the winning, I just enjoy the play. That's why it happened today."
Park, a 22-year-old from South Korea, made her LPGA debut last year when she finished second at the KEB-HanaBank Championship in South Korea. She has played three more LPGA tournaments this year, tying for sixth in her first major at the ANA Inspiration in the spring.
Park had four birdies in a six-hole span to move to 9-under before struggling on the final two holes. She hit her second shot into the greenside bunker at the par-4 17th and then missed a short par putt for her only bogey of the round.
Park then drove into a hazard on the par-5 18th for a one-shot penalty before saving par with a 15-foot putt to end her round in a tie with first-round leader Mirim Lee, who teed off in the afternoon.
Park was one of several players who battled into contention on Friday morning after struggling a bit playing the first round in the afternoon, when average scores were nearly two strokes higher than in the morning.
Amy Yang shot a 71 and finished the second round two shots back. World No. 1 Lydia Ko bounced back from a 1-over par first round to shoot 66 and stands three shots behind.
Cristie Kerr and Minjee Lee, who both shot 5-under in round one, were among the other leaders playing in the afternoon.
Ko got off to a shaky start with a bogey on the first hole before stringing together four straight birdies starting at No. 3. She added two more birdies before capping her round with the seventh of the day at the par-5 18th to cap her strong day.
"My birdie on 3 kind of turned the round around and making the string of birdies definitely helped," she said. "Just to know that this is the first time I was under par for the tournament kind of put myself in a positive position. I just tried to enjoy it out there."
While contending in a major is a mostly new experience for Park, Ko is an old hat at it at the age of 19. She won the Evian Championship last September to become the youngest woman ever to win a major and followed that up with her second at the ANA Inspiration this year.
Ko then lost a playoff to Brooke Henderson in the KPMG Women's PGA Championship in Washington last month.
"I think the more I play, I think the more I get used to it, especially at these majors where the courses are tough," Ko said. "You need to stay patient. I think that's the big key I've been learning, just keep my head high and just enjoy it out here."
Henderson has not had as much luck following up her major success. The second-ranked player in the world hit two bogeys on the back nine to shoot a 1-under for the round that left her three over for the tournament and in danger of missing the cut.
No. 4 ranked Lexi Thompson, who also played with Ko and Henderson, also stands at 3 over and also could miss the cut.