Korda one off the lead at Chevron as Thitikul and Im shine

rugby20 April 2024 04:55| © AFP
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Atthaya Thitikul © Getty Images

Thailand's Atthaya Thitikul and South Korea's Im Jinhee share the second round lead at the LPGA's Chevron Championship, the first women's major of the season, but record-hunting American Nelly Korda sits just one shot behind.

Korda is looking to become the first woman to win five consecutive tournament wins and she left the course on top of the leaderboard after carding a three-under round of 69 at Carlton Woods, in The Woodlands, Texas.

But late in the day, Im and Thitikul both finished strongly to grab the top spot heading into the weekend.

Korda had a nightmare start making a double bogey on the opening par-four hole where it took her two shots to get out of a fairway bunker after a poor tee shot.

But she bounced back immediately, draining a birdie putt on the second and then claiming another on the par-five fourth.

She ended her round with a three under-par 69 with her resilience ensuring she is in contention for what would be a remarkable fifth straight win.

"Kind of all over the place on the front nine, but pretty clean scorecard on the back with two birdies," she said, noting that the early double hadn't knocked her off her game.

"I actually didn't feel bad at all. Sometimes when you start to make mistakes you just don't really feel confident or you don't feel that great.

"But I just told myself that it's the first hole of the tournament today. Even though I may have made a double, I wanted to save a bogey. There is still so much golf to be played and there is still a good bit of gettable par-5s, that's usually what I think about, just the opportunities that I have ahead," she said.

But Im and Thitikul offered the prospect of a real battle for the title.

The 21-year-old Thitikul left the course in upbeat mood after making birdie on the par-5 18th to complete a 5-under round of 67.

The Thai star, who has two wins on the LPGA and four on the Ladies' European Tour, is playing in her first tournament of the year after suffering a left thumb injury.

With her expectations low, Thitikul said she was playing without any real pressure.

"(I'm feeling) kind of free. Just a little bit of excitement of starting like my first week of the season here in a major. But other than that, not really any pressure at all," she said.

LPGA rookie Im, who enjoyed four wins on the Korean tour last year, posted a bogey-free 67 and led the field in putting.

There were emotional scenes at the last hole when Ryu So-yeon of South Korea said her final farwell to the tour amid hugs from her fellow players.

The 33-year-old, who missed the cut, is retiring after an illustrious career which saw her win two majors and six LPGA titles in total, including the Chevron in 2017.

"I'm very numb now. I just cannot believe this is real. Nobody pushed me to retire. That was my decision. Still I just cannot believe this is real," she said.

"But this is it. This is a time I need to give myself enough credit and this is the time I need to be proud of myself, and then this is the time I start to send all the loves and thank you notes to all the people," she said.