Kim beats bad weather to take Hana Financial Group Singapore Women’s Open clubhouse lead

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SINGAPORE, 8 MARCH 2024 ­– South Korea’s Kim Jae-hee navigated a challenging final stretch in the second round of the Hana Financial Group Singapore Women’s Open (HFGSWO) on Friday (March 8) to grab the clubhouse lead, with Thai major winner Patty Tavatanakit lurking behind on another day disrupted by inclement weather.

54 players completed their first round early on Friday morning before the second round began at 9am. These included Kim, who is seeking her maiden KLPGA Tour title. She recorded six birdies and two bogeys for a four-under 68 at the Tanah Merah Country Club’s 72-par Tampines Course.

The 24th-ranked player on the KLPGA Tour, who never relinquished her lead, said: “Compared to yesterday, although I had some missed shots, I still managed to hit it close enough to the pin. Unfortunately, I could not secure a lower score. Nevertheless, I’m still satisfied with my effort.

“I was a little disappointed that I did not manage to complete yesterday’s round with just one hole remaining before the play was suspended, but I told myself that it was no big deal. What mattered most was that I kept my focus and headed back to the course the next day, picking up where I left off.”

Kim had concluded the first round in second place and built on her strong momentum to hit two birdies in her first five holes to take the top spot on Friday. But she had to endure a turbulent finish, mixing two bogeys and three birdies in the last five holes to post a 10-under 134 at the tournament’s halfway mark. Torrential rain and threats of lightning then forced the players off the course for over two hours at around 3pm.

Just two shots behind Kim is tournament favourite Patty, who keeps herself firmly in contention for a third title in four starts. She carded 69 to be joint-second with the South Korean quartet of Jun Ye-sung (67), Hwang You-min (63), amateur Oh Soo-min (68) and opening-round leader Bang Shin-sil.

Bang posted one-under on Friday after completing only nine holes in her second round.

After finishing as the runner-up three times to date, including twice last year, Kim is determined to finally make her mark in her fourth year as a professional.

Vowing to keep chasing her first victory, she said: “I had several opportunities to win last year and I always believe that I have the game and confidence to win. It’s just a matter of time before I accomplish it.

“I’m still having that good feeling from the first round. Hopefully, I’ll be able to reproduce this strong performance over the weekend.”

As for world No. 27 Patty, she was pleased with how she is performing after a gruelling day saw her play 23 holes, including five from Thursday.

In fact, the weather delay was a blessing in disguise for the Thai as it allowed her to recharge, having been competing for the last three weeks.

“It was a good round, another solid 69. I had a lot of birdie opportunities today and I feel like my game is feeling really good,” said Patty, who carded a first-round 67.

“I feel like the delay was much needed. I just needed more rest coming into this week and everything worked out perfectly.”

Amateurs at the HFGSWO are also serving notice of their skill with South Korean rising star Oh holding her own to finish tied-second on Friday. She carded a flawless 68 without dropping a shot for a second consecutive day.

The teenager, ranked 51st in the World Amateur Golf Ranking, was surprised to be tied-second at the halfway mark of the tournament.

“When I was playing, I didn’t know what position I was in. I only found out that I was tied-second when I submitted my scorecard and I was really surprised,” said Oh, who made seven KLPGA appearances last year. Her best finish at a pro event was ninth at The 9th Kyochon 1991 Ladies Open in 2023 and she hopes to improve on that.

Singapore’s own rising star, Chen Xingtong, was equally impressive. The 15-year-old stands a good chance of making the cut if she can replicate her performance today.

Following an opening round of 74, Xingtong bounced back by mixing four birdies with a bogey, bringing her to one-under overall. She currently sits two shots above the projected cutline set at one-over 145.

“I just tried to take it easy today. We had to wait around two hours to go out again, so it wasn’t the best conditions but I’m glad I adapted quickly enough,” said Xingtong.

“I got a bit lucky, but it’s only nine holes. There are still another nine tomorrow and I would probably still have to play another 18 so I’ll just try to take it easy.”

Credit: Hana Financial Group Singapore Women’s Open

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