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Katherine Kirk leads chasing pack at ANA Inspiration

Kirk building on what was an improved week at the Kia Classic (Photo: Getty Images)
Australia’s Katherine Kirk is alone in second position and three shots from leader, In Kyung Kim of Korea, at the halfway mark of the opening event in major championship golf for 2019, the ANA Inspiration at Mission Hills in Rancho Mirage in California.

While no doubt disappointed with two bogeys to finish her round of 68 the 38 year old continues to build on the improvement she displayed at last week’s Kia Classic.

Just as she had done in her opening round of 71 yesterday, Kirk began well and with six birdies in her first eleven holes she was contending for the lead. Yesterday she dropped three shots in her last seven holes while today it would be bogeys at the 17th and 18th that cost her a much stronger position heading into the weekend.

“Yeah, really great front nine, and then back nine got a little bit tougher,” said Kirk. “Obviously finishing bogey, bogey is a bit disappointing, but I'm happy with the score. Lots of positives, so looking forward to the weekend.

“Lots of positives. Yeah, I guess the first 16 holes were pretty textbook. I'm happy with the way I'm swinging it. Made probably a club error on 17, but that's part of golf. 18 was a bad swing off the tee and got unlucky on top of it. Didn't really have much of a second shot.”

Kirk appears to be finding some of the form that has seen her win three LPGA Tour titles and pointed to technical changes in recent times as the catalyst for her longevity.

“I had a lot of people asking me, Are you close to retiring? It did make me think, yeah, maybe I'm closer than I think. I still think I had unfinished business.

“We were going the wrong way technically in '15. Thankfully my coach back home kind of decided to change things up and we found a guy out in California who I have been working with ever since.

“That was really sort of a turning point. Yeah, I'm thankful for that. Yeah, I kind of have that Aussie mentality of never give up either. I'm pretty consistent. My husband would tell you that, too. Maybe stubborn might be the word he would use.”

Kirk is three behind the leader Kim but she finds herself one ahead of last week’s winner and rising superstar, Jin Young Ko, and American Ally McDonald.

World number one Sung Hyun Park is amongst a group of five players just one shot further back along with another of the pre-tournament favourites, Lexi Thompson.

Minjee Lee is 48th and Sarah Jane Smith, just three months away from the arrival of her first child, has done well to make the cut in 63rd position.

New Zealander Lydia Ko is tied for 28th but a horror quadruple bogey at her 15th hole appears to have ruined any chances she might have had for a second ANA title although she did bounce back with consecutive birdies after the disastrous hole.




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