Southampton, NY – Inbee Park shot 4-under-par 68 on Friday and grabbed a 2-stroke lead at the U.S. Women's Open before play was suspended for the day due to heavy fog in the area.
Park birdied her final hole shortly before play was halted to move to 9-under- par 135 through 36 holes at Sebonack Golf Club. The world No. 1 is looking to become just the second LPGA Tour player in history to win the first three majors of a season.
"I think we got very lucky that we finished today," said Park. "I played very good golf today. I gave myself a lot of good opportunities, a very good ball- striking day. The long putts seemed to be going well today. I left a couple out there, but very satisfied with today's score."
I.K. Kim went out with the morning wave and grabbed the clubhouse lead courtesy of a 3-under 69 before Park stormed in front. Kim resides in solo second at 7-under 137.
"I came a long way the last two days, I guess," said Kim, a three-time LPGA Tour winner. "When you start the U.S. Open, you can't really tell what score that you are going to have. I think that kind of helps me too. I don't really think of the score too much. That is going to drive you nuts, I think, if you are going to think about numbers even on any golf course."
Lizette Salas is tied for third place at 4-under 140 after carding an even-par 72. She resides alongside Jodi Ewart Shadoff, who is through 15 second-round holes.
Angela Stanford (68) and Jessica Korda (71) are knotted in fifth place at 3- under, while So Yeon Ryu (69) and Anna Nordqvist (74) share seventh at minus-2.
First-round leader Ha-Neul Kim, who is competing in just her third LPGA event of the season, tripped to a 5-over 77 and slid into a share of ninth at 1- under with Caroline Hedwall, who has four second-round holes remaining.
Park, who has won the last two LPGA events in playoffs, began Friday one stroke off the pace. But as Ha-Neul Kim dropped down the leaderboard, a new target emerged in I.K. Kim.
Kim began her round on the 10th tee and opened with five straight pars before notching a birdie at the 15th. After a par at No. 16, Kim tripped to a bogey at the 17th, but she rebounded with a birdie at the 18th to wrap up an outward 36.
Around the turn, Kim birdied the second and bogeyed the fifth before notching back-to-back gains from the seventh to reach 7-under. She parred her last to hit the clubhouse with the lead, but Park methodically chased her down.
The world No. 1 birdied her first hole, but was even over her next 11, picking up two bogeys and two birdies over that span. She heated up down the stretch, finally joining Kim atop the leaderboard with a birdie at the 13th, then moving in front with another gain at No. 15. After a pair of pars, Park drained a birdie putt from just outside 10 feet at the last to move two clear of the chasing pack.
"I'm very proud of her," Kim said of Park. "I've known her since we were little children, and she's a good player. She's a great player and such a great putter. I admire her with her putting and everything. She's so calm. I think she has a lot of qualities to be the number one player.
"Everybody's different. We've seen many good champions over the years, and I think she's one of the better ones. I think that's why she's been winning so many tournaments. I mean, if she doesn't win, she finishes very close."
NOTES: The second round will resume Saturday at 7:00 a.m. ET ... Babe Zaharias in 1950 is the only player in LPGA history to win the first three majors of a season ... Juli Inkster is appearing in her record-setting 34th U.S. Women's Open. She is 7-over through 36 holes, outside the projected cut line. Marlene Hagge held the previous record at 33 ... Defending champion Na Yeon is 3-over on the tournament. She is through 16 second-round holes.