Korean Kim takes charge as Ko's run ends

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 03, 2015 8:52 PM

RANCHO MIRAGE, California (Reuters) - South Korea's Kim Sei-young spectacularly eagled the par-five 18th to surge into a two-shot lead in the second round of the ANA Inspiration on Friday as Lydia Ko's record-equaling run came to an end.

The 22-year-old Kim, who won her maiden LPGA Tour title at the Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic in February, struck a superb second shot to six feet on her final hole and knocked in the putt to card a seven-under-par 65 at Mission Hills Country Club.

That left the Korean at seven-under 137 in the first women's major of the season, two ahead of overnight leader Morgan Pressel, who followed her opening 67 with a 72.

Long-hitting American Brittany Lincicome, the 2009 champion at Mission Hills, fired a 68 to finish at four under, level with Korean Jenny Shin (69) and Scotland's Catriona Matthew (69).

Kim, who had returned a 72 in the first round, birdied four of her first nine holes to claw her way up the leaderboard.

She picked up further shots at the 11th and 15th before making her only bogey of the day at the 16th, then ended her round in eagle style.

"I really hit the ball good and putted really good," said Kim, who is playing in only her third major championship. "I'm very happy.

"Yesterday I adjust a little bit my putting ... now I see the line better."

FRUSTRATED FIGURE

Pressel, who at 18 became the youngest winner of a women's major at the 2007 Kraft Nabisco Championship held at Mission Hills, was a frustrated figure after shooting a level-par 72.

"I had to fight a little bit harder today," said the 26-year-old American. "My swing wasn't quite as sharp as it was yesterday. I made some sloppy bogeys and some really good pars. But I give myself a chance for the weekend."

Ko's record-equaling run of 29 consecutive rounds under par on the LPGA Tour came to end when the world number one bogeyed two of her last four holes for a 73 and a level-par total of 144.

The 17-year-old, who has already won six LPGA titles, had a chance to dip under par after hitting a perfect tee shot down the 18th but her attempt to lay up with a six-iron failed as her ball ran through the fairway into a pond in front of the green.

Penalized a stroke, she hit her fourth shot to 12 feet above the hole from where she two-putted for a bogey six.

"It was 169 (yards) to the end of the fairway and it was still 20 yards after that with the rough so I thought a six-iron would be okay, even it flew out of there," Ko told Golf Channel.

"Obviously it wasn't the right club. I would love to have had a birdie opportunity there."

However, Ko was happy enough to have matched Hall of Famer Annika Sorenstam's record run of 29 consecutive sub-par rounds.

"You just go out there, try and have fun, try to shoot the lowest you can," said the pony-tailed New Zealander. "Now it's over but 29 is not too bad."

(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Peter Rutherford)