Early leaders in round one, Brittany Lang and Sei Young Kim, once again found themselves atop the leaderboard on day two, exchanging spots at the top throughout the day.
But it is Kim who holds the lead at days end, opening with rounds of 63 – 66 to lead by two at 15-under par, matching the Tournament's 36-hole scoring record.
Kim started her day on the front nine and with an eagle at the par 5, 15th hole leapfrogged Lang to the top of the leaderboard, taking a 2-stroke lead with three holes to play. It was the second eagle of the day for the South Korean who carded a 6-under par, 66 on Friday.
“I feel not bad because, before the first round, I was like uncomfortable because I couldn't trust myself. But after this round, I got confidence,” Kim told the media.
The South Korean has held at least a share of the 36-hole lead five times in her career, going on to win three of those events in 2015. Each of her victories last season came on islands at the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic, LOTTE Championship in Hawaii and Blue Bay LPGA on Hainan Island in China, a far departure from this week’s desert climate in Arizona.
Lang started her day on the back nine and took the outright lead at 14-under par with her fourth birdie of the day at the par 4, 3rd hole. But a wayward tee shot on the tee at the par 4, 7th led to her only bogey of the week and opened the door for Kim. Lang carded a 4-under, 68 on Friday to sit solo second, 2-strokes back of the lead.
“I did a lot of good things. I hit a ton of good shots. It was tough with the wind at times. It was so warm, and I hit a bunch of good shots. I think yesterday we did a better job of getting close to the hole. That's why it was a 9-under day,” Lang told the media.
“I think, on the weekend, we might give the weekend a little more credit because it was definitely tough to pick clubs out there. The key was just patience, knocking a few in there and getting some confidence early.”
Jacqui Concolino and Giulia Sergas are T-3 at 12-under par, ahead of Eun-Hee Ji and Gerina Piller at 11-under par and T-5. First round leader Mi Hyang Lee fired a 10-under par, 62 on Thursday to take the lead ahead of Lang and Kim, but struggled to back up her great play on Friday, posting a 3-over par, 75.
With a cutline of 3-under par, several top-ranked players will miss playing the weekend. World No.2 Inbee Park missed her first cut of 2016 this week in Phoenix, as well as 2-time JTBC Founders Cup champion Karrie Webb, and Alison Lee who will miss her first cut of 2016. It is Lee’s first missed cut since the 2015 RICOH Women’s British Open.
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