Olympia Fields, Ill. — Danielle Kang won back-to-back majors as an amateur yet she’s never cracked the winner’s circle in her half-dozen years as a pro.
The 24-year-old Californian took a big step in the right direction, grabbing a share of the second-round lead in the morning wave Friday at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship. Her biggest hurdle could well be co-leader Sei Young Kim, the LPGA Tour’s 2015 Rookie of the Year and already a six-time winner on tour.
Kang and Kim each shot 5-under 66 to reach 7-under 135.
First-round leader Amy Yang (71), Chella Choi (70), Brittany Lincicome (66), Jodi Ewart Shadoff (66) and Mi Hyang Lee (67) were another stroke back.
So Yeon Ryu (68), who climbed to No. 1 in the world ranking after a victory last week and won the LPGA Tour’s first major of the season, was at 5 under, along with defending champion Brooke Henderson (69), Moriya Jutanugarn (68) and Sarah Jane Smith (67).
Lydia Ko shot 68 to put herself back in contention at 4 under. Michelle Wie also was 4 under, following her opening 68 with a 70.
Kang, the U.S. Women’s Amateur champion in 2010-11, conceded she didn’t have a game plan after her last practice round at Olympia Fields Country Club, one of several venues that previously hosted men’s majors now being tested by the women.
“I kind of was super-overwhelmed and didn’t know what to do,” she said. “So I called my brother, Alex, of course.”
Alex Kang, who plies his trade on the Web .com Tour, was familiar with Olympia Fields and its bunkers, and he gave her some simple advice.
“He goes, ‘Just blast it down,’” she recalled. The plan worked as Kang, relying on her driver, hit 11 of 14 fairways and hasn’t made a bogey through 36 holes.
Kim carved her path up the leaderboard with a closing flourish, making three birdies in her last five holes. They came on the tougher front-nine side, though players caught a break as the swirling wind that made club selection dicey Thursday subsided in round two.
“Fortunately, when I tee off a little less windy,” Kim said, “so I was able to attack the pin.”
The KPMG kicks off a stretch of three majors in six weeks and Ryu could cement her new No. 1 status by adding a second major to the one she claimed in May by beating Lexi Thompson in a playoff at the ANA Inspiration. The LPGA Tour staged a brief celebration as she teed off Thursday, draping her caddie, Tom Watson, in a special green bib.
“The ceremony made me more nervous,” Ryu said. “No. 1, I thought it’s a lot of responsibility and it just gave me a lot of pressure. I finally got relaxed a bit more and just played as normal.”
Yang was on the 18th fairway a day earlier when play was suspended because of lightning. She returned just before 8 a.m. to complete her first round and made a birdie for a 65. Although she got to 7 under, she couldn’t hold it.
Kelly Shon, who opened with a 77, notched the low round of the tournament and tied a competitive course record with a 63. The former Princeton player made six birdies and an eagle without a bogey, placing her name in the Olympia Fields record book alongside Patty Sheehan and Meg Mallon and Rickie Fowler and Vijay Singh (who played the course with a par of 70).
“I wish I’d known I could have beat them all by one shot,” she said, adding quickly, “I’m just kidding.”
Shon knew something special was happening when she rolled in a 90-foot putt for eagle at No. 2.
“My caddie said to me, ‘I had a feeling you were going to make it. And I had a feeling if you made it, you were going to make the cut,’” she recalled. “I don’t know if I believe in superstitions and stuff, but he’s 1-for-1.”
Among those missing the cut at 3 over were major champions Ariya Jutanugarn, the No. 2 ranked player in the world, and Anna Nordqvist.
At Potomac, Maryland, David Lingmerth knows he won’t have to shoot 20-under par for the week to win at tricky TPC Potomac. After two near-flawless rounds in the Quicken Loans National, he was halfway there.
The 29-year-old Swede shot his second straight 5-under 65 to extend his lead to two shots over Geoff Ogilvy. Ogilvy played in the first group off the 10th tee and also shot 65.
Lingmerth won a Web.com Tour event on the punishing Washington-area layout in 2012. On Friday, he used his reliable fade off the tee to avoid trouble and set up birdie opportunities. He’s gone 34 straight holes without a bogey and he finished his round with a birdie from 7 feet.
Daniel Summerhays shot 68 and was alone in third, four shots back.
Ryan Brehm (Michigan State) shot 73 and missed the cut at 8-over 148.
At Peabody, Massachusetts, Kenny Perry shot a 6-under 64 for a share of the U.S. Senior Open lead with Kirk Triplett at a record 11 under through two rounds at Salem Country Club.
Triplett followed his opening 62 with a 67 in the morning, and then Perry came from three strokes back to tie him. Perry missed a 25-footer for birdie on No. 18 just moments before the horn sounded to clear the course because of an approaching storm.
The 36-hole total of 129 was one stroke better than the record set by Michael Allen in 2013 in Omaha, Nebraska.
Doug Garwood (67) was two strokes back at 9 under, and Bernhard Langer (65) and Scott Verplank (66) were 8 under. Langer won the first two majors on the PGA Champions Tour this year.
Kevin Muir (Birmingham) shot 75 and is at 7-over 147. Tom Harding (South Lyon) shot 74 and is at 10-over 150.
Eight threesomes failed to finish the second round before play was suspended.
At Guyancourt, France, Alexander Bjork of Sweden and Spaniard Adrian Otaegui shared the lead at 8-under at the French Open before play was suspended by rain.
Otaegui shot a 5-under 66 after rolling in six birdies on the Golf National course that will stage the Ryder Cup next year. Bjork later joined him at the top of the leaderboard after picking up three shots in just 13 holes during his second round.
Continuing his form from the U.S. Open where he got his highest finish at a major with a fourth place, Englishman Tommy Fleetwood moved within a shot of the leaders after picking up three shots in 15 holes before play was halted.
Overnight leader Paul Waring, who shot a 7-under 64 in the opening day, finished with a disappointing 72 after bogeying twice. After reaching the turn he also hit a double bogey following a bad approach into the water.
The Englishman sits two shots off the lead, in a share of fourth place with Frenchman Gregory Bourdy and American Peter Uihlein.