Grace Kim takes WPGA lead with three Under-68s as tournament reaches halfway point

LPGA Tour star Grace Kim has remained in contention to win Australia’s first-ever WPGA Championship in Brisbane.

The 21-year-old’s score at the Royal Queensland Golf Club (GC) in Brisbane pushed her to within five cents for the tournament and one stroke behind overnight leader Su Oh.

Playing in the afternoon slot, Oh started his round with two early birdies before dropping a shot to be six under through six holes.

The race is even tighter with Sarah-Jane Smith one stroke behind Oh, while young Karis Davidson is two strokes back as the 24-person field battles for the first title.

Kim, fresh off a win at Geoff Ogilvy’s Sandbelt Invitational last month, will enter the weekend confident she can bring it back despite missing numerous birdie putts for a second straight day.

“I let a few go by so I’ll be on the green real soon,” she said after closing her round with another frustrating par.

“I didn’t really give him a chance. That’s definitely what caused a few loose starts, but in the end too it went well.”

The new event takes place as part of the Australian PGA Championship, with Kim coincidentally placed in Ogilvy’s group for the first two rounds.

“It was just a run I couldn’t have asked for,” said Kim, who hopes to earn full-time status on the LPGA Tour this year.

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“His ideas to give us more opportunities to play, it’s so good and…his short game is unreal.

“Being able to stay in the game and not show if he’s playing badly is a big learning curve.”

Ogilvy, who will likely miss the cup after finishing three, said Kim was the “complete package” and a product of the legacy left by Karrie Webb, for whom the new WPGA event trophy is named.

“She has no weakness, she showed no nervousness – the full package,” he said.

“I was a die-hard Karrie fan…she’s a legend, she made Australian girls feel like ‘wow, we can be the best in the world here’.”

Generous crowds followed their group, Kim obliging the many young girls waiting for her autograph after her tour.

The initiative follows the success that the Vic Open and the Sandbelt Invitational have had as mixed events.

“It shows how much it elevates the tournament with guys and girls (playing together),” Ogilvy said.

“I love playing with them, they probably really enjoy it too and we’re sick of seeing the same old smelly guys every week.

“Look at the Australian Open in tennis; events are just better that way and it’s definitely the future, a formula that would work around the world.”

“The Next Greg Norman”

Jed Morgan during day two of the 2021 Australian PGA Championship at Royal Queensland Golf Club.(Getty Images: Chris Hyde)

Meanwhile, Jed Morgan broke a course record of eight under 63 at his home track in Royal Queensland to climb to the front of the Australian PGA Championship court.

The newly-turned-professional shot an eight-under 63 – a course record for the new layout – to finish 14 under on Friday.

The 22-year-old led by a staggering six shots midway through the day as overnight pacemaker Louis Dobbelaar endured an even run to stay seven under.

With no American stars on the court, the stage is set for a new face to emerge with US Open champion Geoff Ogilvy cheekily suggesting after his round that Morgan could be the “next Greg Norman”.

A recipient of a Sport Australia Hall of Fame scholarship, Morgan bonded with assigned mentors Ricky Ponting and former Major League Baseball pitcher Graeme Lloyd.

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“They’ve just opened up their outlook and dealt with this stuff,” said Morgan, who waved to the growing crowd as he birdied his eighth to complete a memorable inning.

“I don’t take too many words or phrases from people, just how they act and they’re both aggressive people and especially when they’re competing that’s the way to be.”

The tournament, returning to RQ for the first time since 2001, was not played in 2020 and then delayed until early this year due to COVID-19.

The delay meant that not all of the country’s US-based stars were able to attend, leaving a wide range of emerging Australian talent to battle it out for the $180,000 top prize.

Ogilvy finished at three and will likely miss the cut, reserving his praise for the new course record holder.

“I don’t know how many people chose it, but probably everyone should have,” he said.

“He’s got the world of golf at his feet, if all goes well, and he’s playing well and taking his opportunities.

“My parents have been eating out ever since they saw Greg Norman win the West Lakes Classic in 1976.

“No one knew who he was and he showed up and he won, and the rest is history.

“It goes here. Jed could be the next Greg Norman.”

AAP

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