Grace Kim storms into WPGA lead with three-under 68 as tournament hits half-way point

LPGA Tour star Grace Kim has kept herself in contention to win the first-ever Australian WPGA Championships in Brisbane.

The 21-year-old’s result at the Royal Queensland Golf Club (GC) in Brisbane pushed her to five below zero in the tournament and within a shot of leader of the night Sue Oh.

Oh, playing in the afternoon hole, she began her round with two early birds before dropping a shot to become a six under a six-hole.

The race is tighter with Sarah Jane Smith one shot behind Oh, while youngster Carris Davidson is a two-stroke ahead as the 24-man field battles for the first title.

Kim, after winning the Sandbelt Invitational Championship for Jeff Ogilvy last month, will enter the weekend confident she can turn despite missing several bird tweezers for the second day in a row.

“I let a couple slip away, so I’ll be on the green pretty soon,” she said after wrapping up her tour with another frustrating reward.

“I didn’t really give it a chance. Surely that caused a few loose pieces, but in the end also, it worked just fine.”

The new event is taking place within the Australian PGA Championship, where Kim was accidentally placed in the Ogilvy group for the first two rounds.

“It was just a tour I wasn’t asking for,” said Kim, who is hoping to land a full-time spot on the LPGA Tour this year.

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“His thoughts about giving us more chances to play, it’s very good and… his short game is unrealistic.

“To be able to keep playing, and not show if he’s playing poorly, that’s a huge learning curve.”

Ogilvy, who will likely miss the cut after finishing three times, said Kim was the “complete package” and product of the legacy left by Karrie Webb, for whom the new WPGA event cup is named.

“She has no weakness, she has not shown any tension – the complete package,” he said.

“I was a fan of Carrie’s wardrobe…she’s a legend, it gave Australian girls a feeling that ‘wow, we can be the best in the world here’.”

Generous crowds followed their group, and Kim forced several young girls to wait for her autograph after her tour.

This initiative follows the success of the Vic Open and Sandbelt Invitational as mixed events.

“It just shows how far you’ll rise to the championship with the guys and girls (playing together),” Ogilvy said.

“I love playing with them, and they probably really enjoy it too and we’re tired of seeing the same smelly old guys every week.

“Look at the Australian Open; the events are better this way and it’s definitely the future, a formula that will work all over the world.”

“The Next Greg Norman”

Jade Morgan on day two of the 2021 Australian PGA Championship at Royal Queensland Golf Club.(Getty Images: Chris Hyde)

Meanwhile, Jed Morgan set a record eight under 63 on his home track in Queensland to fire the rocket to the front of the Australian PGA Championship field.

The pro shot freshly turned eight under 63 — a record for the newly designed layout — to finish at 14 under on Friday.

The 22-year-old commanded an astonishing six shots in the middle of the day as Louis Dubilard overnight endured an even run to stay seven under.

With no US-based stars in the field, the stage is set for a new face declaring itself with US Open champion Jeff Ogilvy suggesting after his tour that Morgan could be the “next Greg Norman”.

A recipient of a Sport Australia Hall of Fame scholarship, Morgan has established a relationship with appointed mentors Ricky Ponting and former Major League Baseball pitcher Graeme Lloyd.

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“The two of them just opened their eyes and deal with that kind of thing,” said Morgan, who saluted the bloated crowd as he nailed his eighth bird to complete a memorable ride.

“I don’t take many words or phrases from people, just how they act and they are aggressive people especially when they are competing like that it should be.”

The tournament, which returned to RQ for the first time since 2001, was uncontested in 2020 and then postponed until early this year due to COVID-19.

The delay meant that not all of the country’s stars based in the United States were able to attend, leaving a wide open field of emerging Australian talent battling for the $180,000 top prize.

Ogilvy finished three times and likely missed the cut, retaining his praise of the new record holder.

“I don’t know how many people chose it, but maybe everyone should,” he said.

“He has made the world of golf under his feet, if all works out, and he is playing well and taking his chances.

“My parents have been eating out forever as they saw Greg Norman win the West Lakes Classic in 1976.

“No one knows who was there and won, the rest is history.

“It’s happening here. It might well be the next Greg Norman.”

AAP

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