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Park keeps one-stroke lead at LPGA Kia Classic


LPGA Hall of Famer Park In-bee of South Korea fired a three-under par 69 to maintain a one-stroke lead after Friday’s second spherical of the LPGA Kia Classic.

Park, whose 20 LPGA victories embrace seven main titles, reeled off 4 birdies in opposition to a lone bogey to face on nine-under par 135 after 36 holes at Aviara, north of San Diego.

It’s Park’s first occasion of the 12 months as she prepares for subsequent week’s ANA Inspiration, the LPGA’s first main event, at Rancho Mirage, California.

Germany’s Sophia Popov fired a second 68 to face second on 136 with England’s Mel Reid third on 138, South Korea’s eighth-ranked Kim Hyo-joo fourth on 139 and Taiwan’s Hsu Wei-ling fifth on 140.

World quantity 4 Park, who started off the tenth tee, birdied the par-4 twelfth and birdied three of the primary 5 holes after making the flip — the par-4 first, par-3 third and par-5 fifth — earlier than making her solely bogey at the par-4 seventh.

“I played good. I just didn’t putt as good as yesterday,” Park mentioned. “I hit good shots, and it’s just weird on these greens, because I hit the shots really close and I don’t make the birdie putt, but I kind of hit it to 15, 20 feet and I make those birdie putts.

“It’s simply greens that actually want endurance. I performed good all through the day, struck the ball nicely, hit lots of greens, gave myself lots of alternatives, so proud of the spherical.”

Park admitted it was difficult to get back in the swing after a long layoff.

“I have never performed event golf in three months. It’s awkward,” she said.

“But after simply three months at house and never touching the golf golf equipment that a lot, it is fairly completely different popping out right here making an attempt to contact the ball. It typically appears to be like bizarre. I really feel like I’m doing it very nicely.”

Park was happy to spend time with friends and her dog, Rio.

“Staying at one place for like over two months is rather like a miracle for us,” Park mentioned.

Popov, one other back-nine starter, had three birdies every on the back and front nines however late bogeys at the fifth and par-3 sixth set her again.

Reid had a bogey-free 70 however her solely birdies got here at the par-4 fourth and ninth holes.

Eighth-ranked Kim is taking part in her first LPGA occasion since November of 2019 after two wins on the Korean LPGA circuit final 12 months.

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