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World No. 1 Park leads at halfway point

By Murray Gleffe

HOBART—Fresh off her win at the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship, Sung Hyun Park showed no signs of fatigue in carding a 62 in the second round at the Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic July 5.

Park will take a one-shot lead after 36 holes into the weekend. 

On Friday, Park birdied five holes on each nine and now sits at 17-under par. 

“I think today’s round went really well,” said Park (through translation). “My putting was especially at its best, and I think I’ve played a good two rounds.”

Sitting one behind and in second place is 17-year old Yealimi Noh, who recently turned down a scholarship offer to UCLA to turn pro.

Noh wasn’t even in the tournament until she Monday qualified.

Yealimi Noh on the 10th hole in round number two. Photo by Murray Gleffe

She will be in the final pairing on Saturday with Park.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” said Noh on being paired with Park. “Just watching and learning and trying to maybe get to know them better and see how it goes. I turned pro in January, and I’ve been playing just like a bunch of mini-tour stuff and then Monday qualifying. Playing well is really like a dream come true.”

Sitting a shot back of the duo is Ariya Jutanugarn.

In her opening two rounds, Jutanugarn has had six sets of back-to-back birdies.

Two years ago, Jutanugarn was missing fairways by 50 yards due to a right shoulder injury that she eventually had surgery on.

Since the repaired shoulder, Jutanugarn has four wins, including the 2018 US Women’s Open and has risen back into the top 10 of the Rolex Rankings.

“Right now, I would say this course is pretty good,” said Jutanugarn. “I still feel I can get better because I missed a lot of tee shots. I didn’t hit much fairway at all today.”

Perhaps the feel-good story of the week is the one Tiffany Joh is carving out on the Thornberry Creek at Oneida course.

Just over two and a half years ago, Joh was diagnosed with melanoma.

She eventually had it removed from her scalp and had to wait over a week to get the call that it had not spread.

These days, all Joh has to worry about is hitting fairways and making putts, and she has done a good job of that through 36 holes.

“You know, I’m not really sure what it is,” said Joh. “Yeah, yesterday, I got off to a really hot start, and today I didn’t. I had I think like five birdies in a row on my back nine, which is the front nine. I think it’s the way the holes kind of set up approach-wise. It just makes me like a bit more aggressive to go at them.”

Other Americans in the hunt include Mina Harigae at 14-under, Kristen Gillman and Lee Lopez at 12-under and Alison Lee at 11 under.

It’s anybody’s guess if the record 31-under par set by Sei Young Kim will be eclipsed just one year later, but the birdies will continue to come in droves over the weekend after the cut was made at five-under par, tying the previous record set at the 2017 Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

2019 Thornberry Creek LPGA Classic Leaderboard after 36 holes (Top 5)

1 Park -17

2 Noh -16

3 Jutanugarn -15

4 Harigae -14

4 Joh -14

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