I K Kim defied torrential rain to card a four under par 68 and open a two shot lead at the half-way stage of the Ricoh Women’s British Open at Kingsbarns Golf Links.
The Korean goes into the third round on eleven under par 133 with England’s Georgia Hall and American World No. 2 Lexi Thompson heading the chasing pack on nine under par 135 with no less than 20 players heading into the weekend within six shots of the lead.
Hall equalled the low round of the day with a five under par 67 in the more benign morning conditions while Thompson finished right behind her with a 68. They are one shot ahead of Thompson’s compatriot Ally McDonald with Koreans Chella Choi and Ha-Na Jang, England’s Jodi Ewart Shadoff and 2014 Champion Mo Martin all just four shots out of the lead on seven under par 137.
Kim looked to be destined for a place just behind the leaders when she went out in one under par but an eagle on the par-five eleventh and a birdie in the worst of the weather on the 17th catapulted her to the top of the leaderboard.
“I think it (the rain) was about as bad as it could get, but I was able to manage it just fine,” she said.
“I really enjoy playing out here,” she added. “I don’t know, if I had to play golf anywhere in the rain, this would be the golf course.
“I haven’t really thought about tomorrow yet, but I’ll look at what I did (today), and maybe I can make some kind of plan.”
Both Hall and Thompson went out early in the day before the rain struck but they constructed their scores in altogether different ways.
Hall made her move early with four consecutive birdies from the second before dropping her first shot of the day on the ninth. She made further advances on the 11th, 14th and 15th before giving one shot back when she drove into a bunker on the 16th.
“I think that might be the first time I have ever had four (birdies) in a row in a tournament,” said the Englishwoman who is about to make her Solheim Cup debut for Europe before returning across the Atlantic to play in this year’s LPGA Qualifying School. “I’m playing really well and my putting is especially good.”
Hall went onto confirm she had received some useful advice from Gary Player when they played together during the South African’s recent charity invitational day at Wentworth.
“He said I should take a pad out with me and write down how many times I get up-and-down from one hundred yards. He also said that if I was practising for three hours, I should spend two hours on my short game.
“He said you should never feel sorry for yourself and never give up,” she added. “Those things were kind of big for me. If he tells me that, I’m certainly not going to give up on the golf course.”
Thompson has also had outside help, in her case from her Scottish caddie, Kevin McAlpine, who has been on her bag for a run of eleven tournaments during which she has won once and claimed four second place finishes.
“Kevin and I laugh the whole way round,” the American said after completed a round that included a run of five straight birdies from the tenth. “It helps playing well but we’re always joking around. I think that’s what make our relationship so great out here. He keeps me relaxed but at the same time he’s out there doing my numbers, reading my putts, basically everything.”
The race for the Smyth Salver, awarded to the leading amateur who plays all four rounds, looks set to go to the wire with 2016 Ladies’ British Open Amateur champion, Sophie Lamb, posting a second round 71 to finish tied with World No. 1, Leona Maguire, on four under par 140. They also have My Leander right on their tails after the Swedish international posted a 70 to complete 36-holes on three under par 141.
The cut fell at one under par and among those who made it with nothing to spare were World No. 1, So Yeon Ryu, and one of her predecessors, Lydia Ko.