LOS ANGELES: Kim In Kyung hopes to take care of some unfinished business at the ANA Inspiration after firing one of the lowest rounds of her career on Friday.
The former tournament runner-up birdied the 18th hole to finish with a sizzling seven-under 65 and a three-shot lead in the second round of first major championship of the LPGA Tour season.
The South Korean’s round included eight birdies and one bogey to take her total to eight-under 136 on the Mission Hills Country Club course near Palm Springs, California.
“I knew my game was getting better,” said Kim, who has seven LPGA titles. “I have been training a lot and improving every day.
“The ball was playing shorter than yesterday so I had to adjust.
“Out here you get what you see. You can’t really expect everything to go in. I was seeing some lines today and put some good speed on it.”
The 30-year-old Kim is hoping to redeem herself after missing a 35 centimetre (14 inch) putt on the 18th hole of the 2012 tournament that would have delivered her the championship.
Instead she went into a playoff with compatriot Yoo Sun-young where she lost on the first extra hole.
Katherine Kirk of Australia is alone in second after shooting a 68 to reach five-under 139.
Ko Jin-young and Ally McDonald are tied for third at four-under 140, four strokes back of Kim.
Tied for fifth is China’s Yan Jing, England’s Charley Hull, South Korean Park Sung-hyun and Americans Lexi Thompson and Danielle Kang who are all at three-under after two rounds.
Kim got off to a roaring start by making birdie on three of her first five holes. The only blemish of the round came on the par-four seventh where she made bogey.
She then finished strong on the back nine with birdies on Nos. 15, 16 and 18. She birdied all four par-fives en route to recording the third lowest scoring round of her career.
Despite her final hole stumble in 2012, Kim is not without a major victory. In 2017, she captured the Women’s British Open, in a season that saw her win three times on the Tour.
Kim didn’t want to talk about her playoff loss seven years ago.
“Sometimes it is difficult to take outcomes. I don’t have control over it, that’s the truth,” she said.
Kirk, of Brisbane, birdied six of her first 11 holes. She was tied with Kim on the tee at 17 but back-to-back closing bogeys and Kim’s blazing finish dropped her into solo second.
“Sometimes you get the breaks and sometimes you don’t,” said Kirk. “I made a club error on 17 and that is part of golf unfortunately.
“On 18 it was a bad tee shot and so I didn’t have much of a second shot. But overall I am happy with my score.”