Fresh off her sixth LPGA Tour win, Danielle Kang used a 4-under par 68 on Friday in Boca Raton to climb into a share of the lead with Lydia Ko at the halfway point of the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio.
Ko recorded four birdies for a 2-under 70 in the second round. This is the ninth time in Ko’s illustrious career that she has held or shared the 36-hole advantage.
The most recent occurrence happened at the 2021 Gainbridge LPGA hosted by Lake Nona Golf & Country Club in Orlando, where Ko finished in a tie for second.
“More of a grind than yesterday. I don’t think I played as solid compared to yesterday, and I don’t think I could have played much better than the first round,” said Ko, a 16-time LPGA Tour winner.
“When you get off to a hot start, I think you do put a little bit of pressure [on yourself]. Even though you’re a couple under par, you don’t feel like it was as good because you keep comparing.
“But I tried not to do that and be committed over each shot, play the best golf I could today.”
Kang is excited to join her friend at the top and confident in how she is playing after winning last week.
“She’s [Ko’s] like my little sister, and I think everybody knows that. She had a phenomenal round yesterday, shot 9-under, and I just saw that she was at 11, so I just kind of wanted to get to double digits today,” said Kang, who closed with back-to-back birdies on Nos. 8 and 9 to reach 11-under overall.
“I’m just proud of the process. It’s not just about repeating the same thing I did last week. It’s being able to keep the consistency up.
“I really wanted to get to double digits [under par]. That was my goal today, so I was happy to do that.”
Two players are four shots back of Kang and Ko at -7 including Jodi Ewart Shadoff (69), who will round out Saturday’s final grouping off No. 1 tee at 9:22 a.m. ET. The other is Yuka Saso (70), the 2021 U.S. Women’s Open champion. Saso has not missed a cut since accepting LPGA Tour membership after that victory.
“For me, [the start of the season] it is more about getting the feel back of the competition because we had been off for a month and a half. I think be more relaxed, go for the pin, and try to be aggressive,” Saso said.
“I think that helped my game for the past two weeks. I’m already happy that I’m able to play here on the LPGA, so make a lot of cuts and play all the majors.”
A group of five individuals share fifth at 6-under overall, led by 2021 Epson Tour graduate Morgane Metraux. The Swiss sensation recorded eight birdies for a 6-under 66, the round of the day at Boca Rio Golf Club.
Rolex Rankings No. 1 and defending Gainbridge LPGA champion Nelly Korda shot even par on Friday to join Delray Beach resident Lexi Thompson (70) in a tie for 17th on -4. And despite a 3-over 75 in the second round, Palm Beach County native Jaye Marie Green was one of 74 players to make the cut of 1-over par. Laura Davies withdrew during the second round.
Ko will tee off in the final group at 3.22am on Sunday morning NZDT.
- Ko hit 11 of 14 fairways and 13 greens in regulation, with 29 putts
- Her 36-hole total of 11-under par 133 sets the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio tournament scoring record, besting the previous mark of -10 by Madelene Sagstrom in 2020
- This is her second appearance in the Gainbridge LPGA and first at Boca Rio; she finished T2 in 2021 when it was contested at the Lake Nona Golf & Country Club
- She is 10th on the LPGA Tour’s All-Time Official Money List with $12,368,796 in official earnings
- Six-time winner on the Ladies European Tour, and most recently the 2021 Aramco Saudi Ladies International