Kim Sei-young shot a 65-under-five to take a one-shot lead midway through the Pelican Women’s Championship on the LPGA Tour in Florida on Friday.
The 27-year-old world number two, from South Korea, produced a bogey-free game on the Pelican Golf Club course, scoring five birdies and 13 pars to head into the weekend with eight under for the tournament.
Kim, full of confidence after her first major triumph at the PGA Women’s Championship last month, was in the groove from the first tee, streaking back-to-back birdies on the first two holes.
Another pair of birds on the sixth and seventh took her seven sous on the turn before her fifth and final birdie of the day on the 14th hole.
Ally McDonald of the United States is one behind Kim in second after shooting a 66 under par.
McDonald, who is chasing his second victory on tour after winning the LPGA Drive On Championship in October, had a back nine and took back-to-back birdies on his eighth, ninth and tenth holes to go to seven under.
There was a brief crash with a bogey five at the second par four, McDonald’s 11th hole, but the 28-year-old from Mississippi recovered to collect her fifth birdie on the seventh par-five.
McDonald later said his decisive Drive On victory helped calm his nerves.
“I don’t feel so stressed out about things since I got this win,” McDonald said. “I always carry a positive momentum from this.”
First-round leader Sophia Popov is drifting behind McDonald’s in third place alongside Northern Ireland’s Stephanie Meadow on six under.
Popov lit up the course Thursday with a six under par 66 when she pocketed six birdies out of just the top nine.
But the British Open champion found things more difficult on Friday after taking the start on the 10th. Two first birdies took her to eight under before dropping a shot with a bogey on the 16th.
She recovered with a birdie just after the turn to come back to eight under, but then stuttered with a double bogey six on the second par four hole.
Popov was kept in contention with a solid putting, including a trio of putting between 10 and 15 feet, which helped her reach a par 70 level.
“I pulled it off and put in a lot of putts when I got there so I’m pretty happy with my score,” said the German.
Meadow, meanwhile, loaded the standings with a barn finish en route to a 65 under par of five.
Meadow, who started the round on a sub, fell in the standings with a bogey on his opening hole after starting on 10th.
But birdies at the 12th and 14th holes left him two cents. After a streak of eight straight pars, Meadow then burst into the stretch with four birdies in his last five holes to go down to six under.
rcw / bb