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OLYMPIA FIELDS, Illinois (Reuters) - Talented pianist Danielle Kang hit all the right notes to move into a share of the clubhouse lead with Kim Sei-young during the second round at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship on Friday.
Twice U.S. Women’s Amateur champion Kang and South Korean Kim took advantage of ideal morning conditions to card five-under-par 66 at Olympia Fields outside Chicago.
The pair were on seven-under 135, one stroke ahead of first-round pacesetter Amy Yang and Englishwoman Jodi Ewart Shadoff with half the field back in the clubhouse.
California-born Kang, a first generation American of Korean descent, is still seeking her first LPGA victory at the age of 24, though her progress has been halted by injury.
Playing with her left wrist heavily strapped after suffering a fracture last year, she described her condition as “playable.”
“As long as doctors give me the green light, I don’t think about it,” said Kang, whose hobbies include playing the piano and saxophone.
“All the doctors, they ask: ‘How is it?’ and I say pain is mental. So if I don’t acknowledge it, it will just go away.”
Kang said her bogey-free round was set up by good approach shots.
“I kept sticking to the iron shots that I trusted all my life. My day was really relaxing. It was stressful but relaxing. I kept giving myself birdie opportunities.”
Co-leader Kim, the 2015 LPGA Rookie of the Year, bounced back into position to challenge for the title, having finished runner-up in this event two years ago.
She dropped four shots in three holes late in her first round, before making an adjustment that paid immediate dividends.
“I realised my grip was a little loose,” said six-times LPGA Tour winner Kim. “I kept pulling it, three in a row (so made) a little adjustment, just stronger than before. That was key.”
Newly-crowned world number one Ryu So-yeon was tied for fifth on three-under after an eagle at the par-five 18th, where she sank a 10-foot putt after a brilliant five-wood second shot.
“Last night we got a lot of rain so it’s been easier to get close to the pin,” Ryu said after a 68. “I thought my game was kind of rusty but now I’m only two shots back of the leaders.”
The ever-smiling Ryu seems to be handling the pressure of playing as world number one, even if she does not sound like it.
“I’m kind of overwhelmed these days,” added the South Korean, looking more relaxed than her words might suggest.
“I just try to be the same person, no matter if I’m number one or number 100.”
Reporting by Andrew Both; Editing by Andrew Roche and Ken Ferris