Kim takes Pelican Women’s Championship lead

There’s no rust on Sei Young Kim.

In her first start in more than a month, Kim has picked up where she left off and heads into the weekend with the lead at the Pelican Women’s Championship at Pelican Golf Club in Belleair, Fla.

With five birdies on the day, the South Korean moved from a third-place tie to first place with a 5-under-par 65 on Friday. At 8-under 132, Kim leads second-place Ally McDonald by one stroke.

Stephanie Meadow of the United Kingdom and Sophia Popov of Germany are tied for third place at two strokes back. Elizabeth Szokol (66) sits in fifth place three strokes back, while Lindsey Weaver (68), New Zealand’s Lydia Ko (67) and Australia’s Minjee Lee (69) and tied for sixth at 3 under.

Kim, whose last outing was a win at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship in early October, her first career major, birdied four holes on the front nine but birdied just once on the back.

“You know, it was tough to make the chance (for birdies on the) back nine … because pin (positions were) really tough,” Kim said. “Most pins were right next to undulation, so if you miss the distance, it’ll come back, all the way back.

“Yeah, so … I had three good up-and-downs … with the bogey-free round it was really good play today.”

It’s the 14th time in Kim’s six-year LPGA career that she has held or shared a 36-hole lead.

McDonald, who won her first LPGA Tour title last month at the LPGA Drive On Championship, played her seventh straight round under par dating back to the final round of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship.

She birdied five holes on the day, but a bogey on the par-4 No. 2 cost her.

“It was kind of directly into the wind and the hole location just a few paces past that false front, so it really requires a really precise approach,” McDonald said. “The way some of the greens just fall off, you’re going to hit good shots sometimes and have to work to get it up and down. You’re always going to have some 40 to 50 footers occasionally, and that just makes the speed control really important. I tried to be really patient, not all about making a lot of birdies out here.”

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