Kang takes 1-stroke lead in LPGA Tour event at Lake Merced

DALY CITY, Calif (AP) — Danielle Kang birdied the par-5 18th hole for a 6-under 66 and a one-stroke lead Friday in the LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship, the tour’s second straight event on the San Francisco Peninsula.

Coming off a 35th-place tie last week in the U.S. Women’s Open at nearby Olympic Club, Kang had a 7-under 137 total at Lake Merced for a one-stroke lead over first-round leader Leona Maguire and former Stanford player Lauren Kim.

“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.”

Kang rebounded from a bogey on the par-4 16th with a 6-foot par save on the par-3 17th and the closing birdie.

“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.

Maguire followed her opening 75 with a 73, rebounding after opening with three straight bogeys. The former Duke star from Ireland played alongside the tournament’s two past champions, Sei Young Kim (2018) and Florida neighbor Lydia Ko (2019).

“Really proud of how I sort of hung in there and battled back and holed some really nice putts and got some really nice up and downs and keep the round going,” Maguire said. “Kept myself in the tournament.”

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.”

Min Lee was 5 under after a 69.

Lexi Thompson had a 72 to fall to 1 under. 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 4 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 3 under to 5 under with closing bogeys.

Stanford’s Rachel Heck, the NCAA player of the year playing on a sponsor exemption, missed the cut with rounds of 76 and 78 in the group with Wie West.

Ko was 2 under after a 70, and Kim was 3 over after 74.

Saso and Women’s Open playoff loser Nasa Hataoka skipped the event.

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