Breakthrough winners in their last starts, Sei Young Kim and Ally McDonald were on top again Friday in the Pelican Women’s Championship.
The second-ranked Kim, making her first start since winning the KPMG Women’s PGA a month and half ago at Aronimink for her first major title, shot a five-under 65 at Pelican Golf Club to take a one-stroke lead over McDonald into the weekend.
Not that Kim was paying attention to the leaderboard.
“Golf is compete with myself, I think,” Kim said. “If you see the leaderboard then I think I think about the other things. I just want to think about focus on myself and what I have to do.”
McDonald had a 66. She won her first LPGA Tour title late last month in the Drive On Championship-Reynolds Lake Oconee in Georgia in the tour’s last event.
“My ball-striking was just a little off yesterday, but managed to play really solid,” McDonald said. “I was able to strike it better today. Had a few more realistic looks for birdie. Overall, I just feel like I’m still rolling the ball really well, which gives me a lot of confidence and takes a little pressure off my ball-striking in general. Feel like I don’t have to hit had it really, really close.”
Kim had an eight-under 132 total in the first-year tournament originally set for the same week as the PGA Championship in May. The 11-time LPGA Tour winner birdied four of the first five holes and added another on the par-five 14th.
“It was a tough to make the chance to birdie on the back nine because pin position really tough,” Kim said. “Pins, most pins were right next to undulation, so if you miss the distance, it’ll come back, all the way back. I had three good up-and-downs. Bogey-free round It was really good play today.”
First-round lead Sophia Popov, the Women’s British Open winner at Royal Troon in August, was tied for third at six under with Stephanie Meadow. Popov followed an opening 64 with a 70, playing alongside McDonald and top-ranked Jim Young Ko.
“Ally had a good start, too,” Popov said. “When I started making a couple bogeys she was making birdies, and so I knew she was getting close to me. I think that also helped to push me.”
Meadow birdied four of her last five holes, finishing on the front nine, for a 65.
“My back nine was awesome,” Meadow said. “Played really solid. The front nine I hit barely any greens and made a ton of up-and-downs. Just kept my cool on my front nine, the back nine, and was able to make some birdies coming in, which was nice.”
Elizabeth Szokol was 5 under after a 66.
Lydia Ko had a 67 to join Minjee Lee (69) and Lindsey Weaver (68) at three under. Canada’s Brooke Henderson (70), Angela Stanford (68), Jennifer Song (70) and Robynn Ree (69) were two under. Canadian Alena Sharp is in a tie for 14th after her second-round 71 left her at one under.
Jin Young Ko was tied for 47th at three over after rounds of 72 and 71, in her first LPGA Tour start of the year. No. 1 in the world for the last 68 weeks, She has been home in South Korea since the COVID-19 pandemic. She plans to play three straight tournaments through the U.S. Women’s Open.
U.S. Women’s Open champion Jeongeun Lee6, also making her return to the LPGA Tour, was tied for 38th at two over, following an opening 73 with a 69.
Streb shoots 63 to lead Villegas by two shots at Sea Island
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Robert Streb birdied his last two holes on the Plantation course at Seal Island and matched his career low with a nine-under 63, giving him a two-shot lead over Camilo Villegas on Friday in the RSM Classic.
Villegas had an even better finish to stay in range going into the weekend.
His tee shot on the par-five 18th on the Plantation course hit a cart path on the right side of the fairway and bounced enough that he only had a 9-iron left over the water to a front pin. He was urging it to clear the water, and it landed just on the green and left him about 12 feet away for a closing eagle and a 66.
The final two rounds move to the Seaside course, which Joel Dahmen lit up Friday for a nine-under 61 that took him outside the cut line to just outside the top 10.
The last four winners at the RSM Classic each had the 36-hole lead.
The top Canadian was Roger Soan, whose second-round 69 left him at fix under, tied for 22nd. Countryman Corey Conners shot a second-round 70 to sit at five under, in a tie for 30th. The other Canadians in the tournament missed the cut.