Belleair, Fla. – Lexi Thompson birdie four of her last five holes on Friday with 6 under 64 to share the lead with Jennifer Kupcho at the weekend at the Pelican Women’s Championship.
A grand prize was awarded when Pavrisa Yoktuan hit an eight-iron throw at the 145-yard 12th hole and won a two-year lease of a Lamborghini.
Christina Kim also feels like a winner, even though her work isn’t done. Kim missed Monday’s qualifiers, received a late sponsor waiver and reacted to rounds 65 and 66 to sit just two tables away from the lead.
That was a big deal for Kim as she was 98th in the Race to the CME Globe and only the top 100 kept their full cards for next year after the event. She’ll have to win – something Kim hasn’t done in seven years – to break into the top 60 and progress to next week’s CME Group Tour Championship.
For now, she’s hovering in the air, a no-brainer for a 37-year-old who calls herself “old Betty” who can “smash it from time to time and find the bottom of a cup again.”
“Turns out I’m a bit of a control freak. So having no control over my own destiny, not a big fan of that,” Kim said. “So once I know I can control my destiny, I can just focus on getting things done.”
Nothing is settled for Kim or anyone else.
Kupcho, who has been runner-up for the past three years on the LPGA Tour while still trying to claim his first title, knocked four birdies over six holes in the first leg to score 64, aiming for an 11 under 129.
“I don’t know if I need to figure it out,” said Kupcho, who has 12 birdies in the last 28 holes. “I just hit really good irons and got a good position on the pitch.”
Thompson played in the afternoon and finished well, her only weakness being a stretch on the par-4 eighth hole. She hasn’t won since the ShopRite LPGA Classic more than two years ago and has dropped to 13th in the women’s world rankings.
Nine players are separated by two shots at mid-course at Pelican Golf Club.
Leona Maguire of Ireland cooled down a bit from her opening 62 and got 68 for Wie-Ling Hsu (64). The other group that was shot back includes Mi Hyang Lee (62), Matilda Castren (64), world No. 1 Nelly Korda (66) and defending champion Sei Young Kim (sixty seven).
“It will probably be a shootout at the end of the week,” said Maguire. “If that’s the case, just try to make as many birds as you can and keep your footing, see where it stands at the end of the week.”
Jin Young Ko, who has won four of her last seven starts on the LPGA, had 66 to get back into the picture. Korea’s start is 5 times slower.
Emma Talley overcame another odd 70-year-old start to cut numbers, which is important to her as she finished 60th in the Race to the CME Globe. In the season finale next week, everyone starts over with a $1.5 million deposit.
As for Yoktuan, that hole shot left her six shots behind and still has a long way to go to hold the full card next year as the Thai player sits at 158th in the standings.
https://www.espn.com/golf/story/_/id/32615842/jennifer-kupcho-races-share-36-hole-lead-lexi-thompson-pelican-women-championship | Jennifer Kupcho races to share a 36-hole lead with Lexi Thompson at the Pelican Women’s Championship