Xiyu Lin Battles Friday Morning Conditions for Clubhouse Lead
On a day when grinding out pars was going to be a priority for those competing in the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, Xiyu Lin’s even-par 71 was just enough to keep her in the lead at the conclusion of the morning wave in the second round at Baltusrol Golf Club.
Lin, who opened with a 4-under 67 and was tied for second after Thursday, made bogeys in three of her first six holes of the day, but added an eagle on the par-5 18th after knocking her approach to just six feet from 213 yard away.
Lin is the 14th-ranked golfer in the world and yet, has never won on the LPGA Tour. She turned pro in 2011 and has won seven times on the China LPGA Tour and two wins on the Ladies European Tour. Lin has lost two playoffs on the LPGA Tour, however, including earlier this year at the JM Eagle LA Championship.
She finished tied for third last week on the LPGA Tour at the Meijer LPGA Classic and looked to continue to bring that momentum into this week’s major championship in New Jersey. It’s been so far, so good for Lin despite a much tougher day due to Mother Nature.
“Today it's hard again. But I think today it's even a little more challenging for me,” Lin said. “I think the weather is not very nice, and I didn't hit the ball as good. I kind of started off a little rough, hit it into the water the first hole, and then bounced back a little bit. Then had a couple more bogeys.”
Lin called her Thursday round “phenomenal” but knew she would eventually add a few squares on her scorecard.
“Making bogey on the first hole (on Friday) kind of took a little bit of that thoughts away because I know it’s impossible to not make a mistake out here, so all I need to do is just get over it,” Lin said. “Only making a bogey, didn’t make double (bogey) or anything worse and […] get over it and mentally be still prepared, be aggressive, ready for birdies.
“I think that's going to be the mindset for the next two days, too.”
After the first round Lin was just one back of Lee-Anne Pace, who birdied her final hole of the day Thursday – in one of the final groups of the day – to sneak up to 5 under and hold a one-shot lead after 18 holes.
Pace couldn’t keep up her, well, pace, from Thursday as she shot a 2-over 73 in the second round. She went 30 holes before making a bogey at the KPMG Women’s Championship but was 3-over for her final seven holes Friday.
Pace finished her opening round at 8:07 p.m. ET on Thursday and, at 42, she admitted with a laugh at her age you “need a little bit more” sleep than what she got.
“I have to say I was a bit stiff when it started raining,” she said. “Back nine I was sore. But it's the same for everybody in the end. You've got the same turnaround time, it's just a different tee time.”
This is only the second LPGA Tour event for Pace this season, as she got into the Meijer LPGA Classic last week out of the past-champions category and ended up tied for 30th there. She was the 150th golfer out of 156 to earn a spot in the championship and has taken full advantage of her opportunity.
The South African, who is an 11-time winner on the Ladies European Tour, won the Blue Bay LPGA in 2014 for her only LPGA Tour title. She’s had only one top-10 finish in a major championship in her career, however, and is keen to change that come Sunday.
“It's nice to be here, obviously, come and visit everybody, and I'm in a good spot and a good position,” Pace said. “I'm definitely thinking about the win. There's no way I'm not.”