Danielle Kang continued to sail along at the LPGA Tour’s season-opening Tournament of Champions, shooting a six-under 65 on Friday to stretch her lead to two shots.
A five-time LPGA Tour winner ranked No.5 in the world, Kang had a 13-under 129 total at Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club Orlando. She is yet to make a bogey.
Nelly Korda, at No. 4 the top-ranked player in the 25 winners-only field, is second after a 66.
In Gee Chun and defending champion Gaby Lopez were four strokes back at nine under.
Chun, a two-time major champion, matched Kang for the best score of the day with a 65. The South Korean player had a triple-bogey 7 on the sixth hole Thursday in an opening 68.
Lopez shot 68. The Mexican player won last year after a seven-hole playoff.
The 28-year-old Kang, who won twice last season, has some pretty sage mentors. Her boyfriend is Maverick McNealy, who competes on the PGA Tour, and last year struck up a texting relationship with Annika Sorenstam.
The World Golf Hall of Famer and 72-time LPGA Tour winner happens to be on the grounds this week competing in the tournament’s 53-player celebrity division and for Kang, it’s a nice little edge.
“I did reach out to her specifically about stuff, but she’s always been just very welcoming, classy person that has been approachable, always giving me a door to approach her,” Kang said. “So I took it.”
“She felt like she was a slow starter and always played better in the end,” Sorenstam said. “So we had little few chats how to get off to a better start. She’s obviously doing well this week.”
Kang missed only three greens in regulation Friday, and her short game and putting continue to be sharp. Her round was very tidy, and she stretched her lead with three birdies on the back nine, converting on two par 5s (13 and 17) and the short par-4 16th.
Korda’s ball-striking has been very good through two days, leading her to 13 birdies and an eagle. Starting her round one shot behind Kang, Korda hit 12 of 13 fairways and 17 greens.
Outside of one three-putt bogey on Friday, her round was pretty solid. Older sister Jessica Korda (69) is in the mix, too, five shots out of the lead, and Nelly was eager to see what the weekend will bring.
“Danielle is playing well. My sister is playing well. So there is going to be some low scores this weekend,” Nelly Korda said. “We’ll try to stay aggressive and capitalise on that.”