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Aussie Amateur Champion Hong leads - Kay two back in Japan

2019 Australian Amateur Champion Hong handles cold conditions well. (Photo: R&A)
Australia’s Becky Kay might have produced a second round 15 shots worse than her opening round of 64 at the Women’s Amateur Asia Pacific Championship at the Royal Golf Club in Ibaraki in Japan but she is just two from the lead at the halfway stage.

Kay, who led into day two after her round of 8 under par yesterday, battled the cold conditions and after an early bogey was unable to advance her cause dropping eight shots before a final hole bogey kept her in touch with the eventual leader Yae Eun Hong of South Korea.

Hong won the Australian Women’s Amateur Championship in January and is currently ranked 89th in the world women’s amateur rankings.

The players faced cold wind gusts of 24-28 mph, which occasionally exceeded 32mph. The morning drizzle brought the temperature down to 8 degrees Celsius but according to those at the venue it felt like 5 degrees on the golf course with the wind chill factor.

Forty-five players were par or better on the opening day but the best second-round score was a two-over-par 74 by Japan’s world No. 13 Yuka Yasuda.

Hong started the day at six-under-par and was two shots behind the overnight leader, Kay. By the time she made the turn at even-par, she was ahead by four shots. A closing birdie on the ninth hole finally gave her a day’s score of three-over-par 75 and a lead of two shots at three-under-par.

Kay is tied in second place with defending champion and leading world ranked player in this week’s field, Atthaya Thitikul of Thailand, the trio the only three golfers under par at the completion of 36 holes.

“It was a bit of a struggle,” said Kay. “I’ve played in a lot of cold places and today was something else. I’ve never been so cold in my life, and the wind was unbelievably strong.

“So, it was difficult.  I probably could have holed some more putts but besides that, I don’t think I could have done much else.

“Having finished seven‑over, and still being in the mix, I’m not disappointed. I tried my best. I never gave up and I tried to stay warm, which wasn’t very possible, but I did my best.”

Grace Kim and Stephanie Kyriacou are the next best of the Australians in a share of 20th place but they are a massive ten shots from the lead and eight shots from their fellow countrywoman, Kay.  

All six of the Australians made the cut which was applied at 13-over par 157 and 51 players advanced to the weekend rounds.

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