By Aaron Murphy
Leona Maguire. Photo by Golffile
Leona Maguire began her second round leading the field following her opening 65 at the LPGA MEIHEAL Championship in Daly City, California.
The Slieve Russell Ambassador got off the worst possible start, bogeying the first three holes but rallied well with two birdies on seven and nine to make the turn on one over for the day.
The Cavan native traded two birdies for two bogeys on her back nine to finish one over for the day, tied second alongside Lauren Kim and one shot behind clubhouse leader Danielle Kang, who sits on seven under par.
Most disappointing for Maguire was her iron play, which she had been working on so much during lockdown, hitting just 11 greens in regulation.
“It was a struggle to start off with, I hit two really poor iron shots, three poor irons shots really. I tried to just get back to basics really, hitting fairways, hitting greens. It can get away from you really quickly if you don’t do that. I’m not sure what I am doing with my irons, I need to go to the range for a little bit and figure it out,” said Maguire.
“I could have blown myself out of it in the those first three holes, I really hung in there, picked up a few birdies which was nice and got myself back into the tournament and there is a lot of golf still to be played. It’s a tough golf course and there are going to be bad holes.
“I’m proud of myself, I think on this course especially, sometimes it can be about the bogeys you don’t make rather than the birdies you do. I made enough birdies yesterday and it was a case of keeping as many bogeys off the card as I could.
“I’ll try and play as well as I possibly can at the weekend and give myself as many chances and hopefully make a run for it.
“I have a little more experience to try and bid my time for those chances. That’s golf, there are going be times like that. You’re not always going to hit the perfect shots and I was proud of the way I hung in and didn’t let it spiral down, I just put up a big number today.
Danielle Kang. Photo by Golffile
Kang sits on top of the leaderboard thanks to a birdie on the par-5 18th to card a six under par 66 for her second round.
"It was just warmer weather," Kang said. "I play well in really hot weather. Evidently, cold weather has not been my forte, but today weather was on my side."
"The greens are slick and fast, and being poa, it's just a little scary, a little bumpy," Kang said. "You have to trust your lines, and that's what I been doing. Just kept putting the way I did and started dropping on the back nine."
The American won in consecutive weeks last summer in Ohio in the LPGA Tour's return from the coronavirus pandemic. She has five tour victories, the first in 2017 in the major KPMG Women's PGA Championship and won the U.S. Women's Amateur in 2010 and 2011.
Lauren Kim had her second straight 69. "This week it's just amazing to stay at home, sleep in my own bed, and just have the local support and know that people that are rooting for me are close by," Kim said. "I think that's really driven me to just kind of let it go this week and hopefully keep it going on the weekend."
Lexi Thompson had a 72 to fall to one under par. On Sunday at Olympic, she blew a five-stroke lead, playing the final seven holes in 5 over to finish a stroke out of a playoff that Yuka Saso won.
Michelle Wie West shot a 75 to make the cut on the number at four over, the first time in five events this year that she has advanced to the weekend. Wie West and eight other players got in when Katelyn Dambaugh, playing in the last group off the 10th tee, shot a 72, dropping from three under to five under with closing bogeys.