Last season, Sung Hyun Park of South Korea joined Nancy Lopez as the only players to earn the LPGA Tour’s Rolex Rookie of the Year and Player of the Year in the same season, and she shows no sign of letting up.
The 24-year-old Park (pictured) blistered the Dinah Shore Tournament course at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage for an 8-under-par 64 to tie Pernilla Lindberg of Sweden for the lead midway through the ANA Inspiration, the first major of the season.
“Today, the shots were awesome,” said Park, who last week missed the cut for the first time in an LPGA Tour event in the Kia Classic and spent the weekend working on her game. “I just felt really good about my driver. The shots fell in just as I wanted them to. Even though there were a couple things that I missed, but overall just had a great round.
“I love being on my own. It’s my own game, so anytime I need to fix something, I’m going to feel that. It’s really served me well to work on my own.”
The fourth-ranked Park made a bogey on the first hole, but then collected seven birdies and holed her second shot from 100 yards for an eagle at No. 15 to match Lindberg at 12-under 132, breaking by one shot the tournament record set by Lorena Ochoa of Mexico in 2006.
Lindberg, who led after one round with a 65, followed that up with a 67 and is bogey-free through the first two rounds.
“I had just gotten a little off in my set-up which was causing me being a little off plane in my swing,” said Lindberg, 31, who also missed the cut in her last start, the Bank of Hope Founders Cup two weeks ago, before working out the kinks with her swing coach.
“Just getting comfortable, back to a better set-up, and that kind of just put everything in place. But still a work in progress. Every day I go out and hit a few shots on the range, just doing a couple drills to make sure I’m staying on track there.”
Jessica Korda had seven birdies in a 68 and is three strokes back in solo third, while Jodi Ewart Shadoff of England shot 67 and is five behind in a tie for fourth with Amy Olsen, Ayako Uehara of Japan and Charley Hull of England, who all totaled 68.
Jennifer Song, who played at USC, carded a 69 and is another shot back in a tie for eighth with Beatriz Recari of Spain, who had a 72, and amateur Albane Valenzuela of Switzerland, a sophomore at Stanford, who came in at 71.
Ninth-ranked Inbee Park is tied for 11th after a 69, and second-ranked Lexi Thompson shot 72 and is in a tie for 15th that includes seventh-ranked Cristie Kerr, who had a 72.
Top-ranked Shanshan Feng of China totaled 70 and is in a tie for 26th that includes fifth-ranked I.K. Kim of South Korea, who had a 70, and eighth-ranked Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand, who wound up at 69.
Sixth-ranked Anna Nordqvist of Sweden and 10th-ranked Hyejin Choi of South Korea both finished at 70 and are in a tie for 41st, while third-ranked Seo Yeon Ryu of South Korea, the defending champion, finished at 70 and is tied for 63rd.
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