May 17th, 2024

Kim opens 4-shot lead in LPGA Tour’s JM Eagle LA Championship

By The Associated Press on April 26, 2024.

Grace Kim hits from the 16th tee during the first round of the LPGA LA Championship golf tournament at Wilshire Country Club, Thursday, April 25, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Grace Kim opened a four-stroke lead Friday in the LPGA Tour’s JM Eagle LA Championship, shooting a 5-under 66 in tricky afternoon conditions at Wilshire Country Club.

A stroke ahead after an opening 64, Kim had an eagle, four birdies and a bogey to get to 12-under 130. The 23-year-old Australian patiently worked her way around the tree-lined layup, trying not to get frustrated with the bumpy greens.

“I think the less thoughts, the better,” Kim said. “Obviously, during the afternoon round today, we’ve got poa annua greens so just have to stay patient with them. You can kind of see how it can get bumpy, so working with the course and not getting too wrapped up around putts not going in.”

Maja Stark was second after a 69, also in the afternoon.

“I feel like maybe not taking everything so personal because they are a little bit wobbly.” Stark said. “Especially late. Like the whole day pretty much the ball has been wobbling because there has been so many people walking on it.”

The Swede finished second last week in Texas in The Chevron Championship, two strokes behind top-ranked Nelly Korda in the first major of the year. Korda withdrew Monday, a day after her fifth straight victory.

Defending champion Hannah Green of Australia shot a 69 to join Germany’s Esther Henseleit (68) at 6 under. Denmark’s Kristine Pedersen (67) and American Auston Kim (71) were 5 under, and Rose Zhang (69) topped the group at 4 under.

Canadians Savannah Grewal and Maude-Amee Leblanc missed the cut.

Grace Kim won the LOTTE Championship last year in a playoff in Hawaii for her first LPGA Tour title. She missed the cut in The Chevron , shooting 76-72.

She started play Friday on the back nine, rebounding from a bogey on the par-3 12th with the eagle on the par-5 13th and a birdie on the par-4 14th. On 13, she hit a 5-wood to 10 feet. She added birdies on Nos. 3, 6 and 7 on the second nine.

“I think I’ve got to breathe a little bit,” she said. “I did get a little bit nervous on my back nine, so making sure I don’t rush too much and just staying in the present.

AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf

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