By JOHN NICHOLSON AP Sports Writer
RANCHO MIRAGE – Hinako Shibuno’s first impression of the Mission Hills Country Club was far from inspiring confidence and, in retrospect, wrong.
“It was a difficult course for me. I couldn’t even imagine that I could play here,” the 23-year-old Japanese girl said through a translator on Friday, recalling the first time she played the event now known as The Chevron Championship.
A year and a half after tying for 51st in his debut, he pulled out a 6-66 lead and took advantage of a single hit over the weekend on the mountain field that hosts the senior championship for the last time. The tournament, which began in 1972 and became a major one in 1983, moves to Houston next year after failing to attract a sponsor willing to keep it in Mission Hills.
Shibuno opened with a tap-in birdie in par-4 first and had another in par-4 10º.
“That makes it easier to play golf,” he said.
The 2019 British Women’s Open champion won the par-4 13º for the last of her seven birds, against a lone bogey in warm, sunny morning conditions. She continues with the routine that has worked so far.
“I’m going to do the same,” Shibuno said. “I’m going to eat and I’m going to sleep.”
Defending champion Patty Tavatanakit (69), Annie Park (67) and Jennifer Kupcho (70) were a setback. Sei Young Kim (67) and Hyo Joo Kim (67) followed at 7 less.
“I feel like I left a lot out there,” Tavatanakit said. “But at the same time, that’s just golf. There’s no way you’re going to have a perfect day without mistakes.”
It closed with birds on the 17th of par-3 and the 18th of par-5.
“I think 17 was definitely an extra with that pin position,” Tavatanakit said. “I think he pushed me, knowing that 18 was a top tee, so I knew I had a chance to get another little bird.”
Park herself played the first two rounds with the players grouped in two and an odd number on the field.
“Playing was just a little weird yesterday, but today I got used to it,” Park said. “I think when I took the turn and started waiting for the players in the group in front of me, I started to feel like a normal golfer.”
Kupcho, tied in the first round lead with 66-year-old Minjee Lee, played with two of the last three holes with birds after stopping the top 15.
“I wouldn’t say he was very patient,” Kupcho said. “I was definitely a little upset.”
Nanna Koerstz Madsen (67) and Ally Ewing (68) were 6 less.
Koerstz Madsen has a playoff win and loss in his last two outings, beating Xiyu Lin three weeks ago in Thailand to become the first Danish winner in LPGA Tour history and losing to Atthaya Thitikul on Sunday in Carlsbad.
“I was very disappointed after Sunday,” Koerstz Madsen said. “But we drove up here and tried to take it as a positive that he was still in the playoffs and still playing golf really well. But obviously it was disappointing.”
Lee had a 75 to go down to 5 below. Lexi Thompson, the 2014 champion, was also 5 less after a 70.
Top ranked Jin Young Ko, the 2019 winner, followed a first 74 with a 68 to reach 3 less. She played alongside Thompson.
The points leader of the season, Danielle Kang, made five of the first 12 birds, then dropped four hits in the final five with bogeys at 14 and 17 and a double bogey at 18. He even was on par after a 71.
Hinako Shibuno takes 2nd-round lead at Mission Hills – Press Telegram Source link Hinako Shibuno takes 2nd-round lead at Mission Hills – Press Telegram