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Hyo Joo Kim maintains Ascendant lead, Lexi Thompson makes move

Hyo Joo Kim protected her lead with a 3-under 68 in the second round of The Ascendant LPGA on Friday in The Colony, Texas.

The South Korean ranked No. 7 in the world moved to 10-under 132 through two rounds and will head into the weekend with a two-stroke lead over Paraguay’s Sofia Garcia, who kept pace with a 68 of her own Friday.

Lexi Thompson jumped into a tie for third at 6 under with France’s Celine Boutier. Thompson shot the low round of the day, a 65, to reach 6 under while Boutier signed for a 67.

Kim opened her round at Old American Golf Club on the back nine with a string of seven pars. She finally broke that by rolling in birdies at Nos. 17, 18 and 1 before adding a birdie and a bogey the rest of the way.

“My shots were better than yesterday but unfortunately the score wasn’t as good as yesterday,” Kim said. “But I did hit the green a lot more so I’m satisfied with that. There were couple misses here and there in the middle of the round, so after I eat, I’m going to practice and work on those.”

Kim, 28, has five wins on the LPGA Tour but is searching for her first since April 2022.

“I was at the top of the leaderboard couple times this season but weekend plays haven’t been as good some times,” Kim said. “This week, I’m hoping to focus more on my play and play as well as I did on the first day and today and finish strong.”

Garcia, 25, is a rookie on tour who has made only three of 12 cuts this season and has not finished better than a tie for 31st.

After her opening-round 66, she stayed steady Friday with four birdies and just one bogey.

“I had a few chip-ins,” Garcia said. “I wasn’t quite — there were a couple holes where I was not where I was meant to be. I had a solid short game going on and that kind of make me stay patient and I was able to also take advantage of the good shots.”

Thompson, meanwhile, is vying for her first LPGA win since 2019.

Starting on the back nine, Thompson sandwiched four birdies around a single bogey. She added three birdies on the front nine, including back-to-back at Nos. 7 and 8.

Thompson moved to 6 under par for the round and the tournament when she chipped in for birdie at the par-4 eighth.

“Hit a lot of good chips out there, hit a lot of good putts and a lot of solid golf shots,” Thompson said. “I just really committed to a lot out there. That is really all I’ve been trying to build on.”

Leona Maguire of Ireland (67 Friday), Maria Torres of the Dominican Republic (68), Azahara Munoz of Spain (71) and Marina Alex (70) are tied for fifth at 5 under.

Among those missing the cut of 2 over par were tour winners Alexa Pano, England’s Bronte Law and South Africa’s Paula Reto, all at 3 over.

–Field Level Media

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