So Yeon Ryu's 64 gives her a one-shot lead going into Saturday at Kingsmill

Dave Johnson
Contact Reporterdjohnson@dailypress.com
After making bogey on her first hole, So Yeon Rye birdied six of her next eight.

JAMES CITY — Confidence can be fleeting, especially in such a mental game as golf. But when So Yeon Ryu bogeyed her first hole Friday morning, which put her over par for the tournament, she didn’t flinch.

Actually, she pounced.

With birdies on six of her next eight holes, Ryu was on her way to a second-round 64 that gave her the lead in the Kingsmill Championship. At 7 under par going into the weekend, she leads Stacy Lewis, Amy Yang and Mika Miyazato by one shot.

Jessica Korda, Amelia Lewis, Caroline Masson and defending champion Minjee Lee are tied for fifth at 5 under.

The cut line was set at 1 over, and 76 players will continue on to Saturday’s third round — weather permitting. The forecast calls for rain, heavy at times, beginning overnight and lasting until mid-afternoon.

Ryu (71-64—135), who has three top-10 finishes this year, hasn’t won a championship since the 2014 Canadian Pacific Women’s Open. But with the way she’s playing, she feels ready to break that drought.

“I think since Hawaii, I’ve played really well,” said Ryu, a 25-year-old South Korean. “I always feel I’m ready to play well, I’m ready to win a tournament, but I couldn’t get enough confidence. That was the reason why I couldn’t really finish well.

“So I hope I can really enjoy this tournament, and I’m just going to (say), ‘OK, I’m a really good player, I can do this.’ I’m just going to keep talking to myself like that.”

The No. 11 player in the world, Ryu played like a champion Friday. A big difference was her putting game. In her first-round 71 (two birdies, two bogeys), she had 34 putts. On Friday, she had only 26.

After shooting 5 under on the back nine (her front), Ryu birdied No. 4 to pull into a tie with Lee. Lee then bogeyed No. 5, which dropped her to 5 under and left Ryu alone in first. Ryu birdied No. 7 to take what at the time was a two-shot lead.

“For 7 under, you should have every shot, like a good tee shot, good second shot, good putting, good chipping,” she said. “But today, my putting was definitely better than yesterday.”

Ryu should consider buying property at Kingsmill. In her previous three trips to the River Course, she finished eighth, tied for fifth, and second. In 14 rounds, her stroke average is 68.64 — better than anyone else who has played at least 10 rounds in this event.

“I consistently play really well here, so I feel really comfortable here,” she said. “I just really like the atmosphere. I really enjoy it, so enjoying it makes me play better.”

Lewis (70-66—136), who began the day at 1 under, had a bogey-free round. That was the result of solid putting, which she said was set up by better opportunities.

“I definitely hit the ball really good today,” said Lewis, who was playing in the same threesome as Ryu. “We did a good job of judging the wind because it was switching around out there today.

“I had a couple of short (putts), which was nice. If I can get a couple of those long ones to go over the weekend, we’ll be in really good shape.”

Yang (69-67—136) birdied her first three holes Friday, and with another on the par-5 15th, she closed to within a shot of Ryu. She parred out from there.

Yang had finished tied for second in her last two events, which gave her a boost heading to Kingsmill.

“I’ve been playing better, more consistent,” she said. “I just need to make some important putts out there. I’ve been working on my swing with my coach and getting more consistent. I’ve had some good finishes, so I’m really looking forward to playing on the weekend.”

Miyazato (65-71—136), the first-round leader at 6 under, birdied her first hole Friday. But she bogeyed the next, setting up what would be an even-par morning.

Korda closed well by making birdies on her final two holes to claim a share of fifth place. Lewis also birdied 18 to join the group. Lee had the ultimate up-and-down day with four birdies and four bogeys.

Brittany Lincicome, who began the day tied for second at 5 under, birdied two of her first seven holes to take the lead. But she bogeyed Nos. 8, 10, 11 and 12 to finish the day at 3 under, tied for 14th.

After 27 putts Thursday, Lincicome had 33 Friday.

Moriya Jutanugarn also had a tough finish. She was in terrific shape at 6 under after making birdie on No. 11. But she closed with a bogey on 12 and a double bogey on 17.

Johnson can be reached by phone at 757-247-4649.

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