LPGA: Grace Kim taking advantage of Nelly Korda absence in LA

Nelly Korda has recorded five straight wins, but luckily, for the rest of the LPGA this week, somebody else will have to win since Korda is not in the field.

Korda, the top-ranked player in the world, won the Chevron Championship last week but decided to withdraw from this week’s JM Eagle LA Championship to rest and reset after her second major title.

As such, Grace Kim, the 23-year-old from Sydney, Australia, has taken full advantage of Korda’s absence. She opened with a 7-under 64 on Thursday and shot a 5-under 66 on Friday, which has given her a four-shot lead at 12-under par.

Having started on the 10th tee, she gave one shot back at the par-3 12th but bounced back emphatically with an eagle at the par-45 13th.

“[Hit my drive] a little bit left into the fairway and had a shot where the ball was above my feet, and hit a 5-wood,” Kim said of how she played the 13th hole.

JM Eagle LA Championship, LPGA, Grace Kim

Grace Kim during the second round of the 2024 JM Eagle LA Championship.
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

“It started outside right of the green and then, yeah, put it to ten feet, I think, and then, yeah, just dropped the putt in.”

Another birdie at the par-4 14th followed, and suddenly, Kim found herself at 9-under par and holding a commanding lead.

“I think the fewer thoughts, the better,” Kim said of her second-round success.

“Obviously, we’ve got poana greens, so we just have to stay patient with them. You can kind of see how it can get bumpy, so working with the course and not getting too wrapped up around putts not going in.”

Kim did not struggle too much on the bumpy greens, making three more birdies on the front nine to climb to 12-under.

She enters Saturday’s third round holding a four-shot lead, as she is halfway home to securing her second LPGA title. Kim won the Lotte Championship in Hawaii in April 2023.

“I think I’ve got to breathe a little bit,” Kim said when asked what she needs to do Saturday.

“I did get a little bit nervous on my back nine, so making sure I don’t rush too much and just staying in the present probably.”

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.

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