Sung Hyun Park fired a 7-under 65 on Friday and will take a three-stroke lead into the weekend at the season-ending CME Group Tour Championship.
With a second-round 65 at Tiburon Golf Club, Park finished 36 holes at 12-under-par 132, three clear of Caroline Masson (66) and Sarah Jane Smith (69) who are knotted at 9 under.
An untimely three-putt bogey on the final hole cost Park the 36-hole scoring record. But with a three-shot lead at the halfway point, as well as the pole position in the $1 million Race to CME Globe, Park is feeling good.
“To be honest, I don’t feel quite as nervous as I thought I would,” said Park. “After the first shot, after the first hole, I felt a lot more comfortable. I’m not feeling as nervous as I thought I might be going into today.”
Nelly Korda posted a bogey-free 6-under 66 to move to 8 under, alongside Pernilla Lindberg (67) and Madelene Sagstrom (68).
“I was striking it really well and making putts here and there,” said Korda. “Started off birdie, birdie; I made a long putt on the 1st hole, and then I chipped in on the 2nd hole. That kind of started my round. Just stayed really consistent today.”
Ha Na Jang matched Norda’s clean 66 to climb into the mix at 7 under, along with In-Kyung Kim (67), Jessica Korda (68), Sei Young Kim (69), and Suzann Pettersen (70).
Lexi Thompson, who entered the tournament leading Park in the CME Globe points race, played her way into contention with a 67 that got her to 6-under par, and just six off the lead.
The 23-year old American will head into the weekend projected as No. 2 in the CME Globe, and No. 4 in the Rolex Player of the Year race. Despite all the opportunities and scenarios, Thompson says she is only focused on what she can control.
“I’m not really focusing on it at all. I just really wanted to play solid golf. Whatever happens, happens. I know I practiced so much in my off weeks and off-season,” said Thompson. “I’m trying my best, so whatever happens, I’ll be proud of myself no matter what.”
The two other contenders for the Rolex POY and CME Globe bonus, Shanshan Feng (73) and So Yeon Ryu (71), are tied for 39th, and 11 strokes back.
Brooke Henderson, No. 5 in the CME Globe race, posted a 70 to reach 4 under. The 20-year old Canadian is eight shots back and will need to go low on Saturday.
TOP 10: ROUND TWO
1 Sung Hyun Park -12
2 Caroline Masson -9
2 Sarah Jane Smith -9
4 Nelly Korda -8
4 Pernilla Lindberg -8
4 Madelene Sagstrom -8
7 Ha-Na Jang -7
7 In-Kyung Kim -7
7 Jessica Korda -7
7 Sei Young Kim -7
7 Suzann Pettersen -7
TOP 5: RACE TO CME GLOBE
1. Sung Hyun Park (2)
2. Lexi Thompson (1)
3. Shanshan Feng (3)
4. So Yeon Ryu (4)
5. Brooke Henderson (5)
SHOT OF THE DAY
Pernilla Lindberg drains a (really, really) long-bomb birdie on 18.
“I don’t think it’s quite that far of a lead. You know, two, three shots of a lead can change at any moment. I think we still have to see what’s in store for this weekend.”
–Sung Hyun Park