Golf roundup: Hinako Shibuno leads LPGA’s Chevron Championship at Mission Hills
Hinako Shibuno’s first impression of Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage was far from confidence-inspiring — and, in hindsight, mistaken.
“It was a hard course for me. I couldn’t even imagine I could play here,” the 23-year-old from Japan said through an interpreter Friday, recalling the initial time she played the event now known as the Chevron Championship.
A year and a half after tying for 51st in her debut, she took a one-stroke lead into the weekend on the mountain-framed course hosting the major championship for the last time. The tournament that started in 1972 and became a major in 1983 is shifting to Houston next year after failing to attract a sponsor willing to keep it at Mission Hills.
Shibuno opened with a tap-in birdie on the par-four first and had another on the par-four 10th en route to a six-under-par 66.
“That makes it easier to play golf,” she said.
The 2019 Women’s British Open champion chipped in on the par-four 13th for the last of her seven birdies against a lone bogey in warm and sunny morning conditions. She’s at nine-under 135 through two rounds and sticking with the routine that has worked so far.
“I’m going to do just same thing,” Shibuno said. “I’m going to eat, and I’m going to sleep.”
Trainer Bob Baffert was denied an emergency stay by the Kentucky Court of Appeals and already has begun to take down signage at his Santa Anita barn.
Defending champion Patty Tavatanakit (69), Annie Park (67) and Jennifer Kupcho (70) were a stroke back. Sei Young Kim (67) and Hyo Joo Kim (67) followed at seven under.
“I feel like I left a lot out there,” Tavatanakit said. “But at the same time, that’s just golf. There is no way you’re going to have a perfect day with no mistakes. “
She closed with birdies on the par-three 17th and par-five 18th.
“I think 17 was definitely a bonus with that pin position,” Tavatanakit said. “I think it kind of got my momentum going, knowing 18 was an up tee, so I knew I had a chance to get another birdie.”
Park played by herself the first two rounds with the players grouped in twosomes and an odd number in the field.
“Playing by myself was kind of weird yesterday, but today I kind of got used to it,” Park said. “I think when I made the turn and started waiting on players in the group in front of me, kind of just started to feel like normal golf.”
Kupcho, tied for the first-round lead with Minjee Lee at 66, birdied two of the last three holes after parring the first 15.
“I wouldn’t say I stayed very patient,” Kupcho said. “I definitely got a little angry.”
Nanna Koerstz Madsen (67) and Ally Ewing (68) were six under.
Koerstz Madsen has a playoff victory and loss in her last two starts, 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 here and we tried to take it as a positive that I was still in the playoff and I was still playing very good golf. But, obviously, it was disappointing.”
Lee had a 75 to drop to five under. Lexi Thompson, the 2014 champion, also was five under after a 70.
Top-ranked Jin Young Ko, the 2019 winner, followed an opening 74 with a 68 to get to three under. She played alongside Thompson.
Season points leader Danielle Kang birdied five of the first 12, then dropped four strokes on the final five with bogeys on 14 and 17 and a double bogey on 18. She was even par after a 71.
Ryan Palmer leads Valero Texas Open
Ryan Palmer shot a bogey-free round of six-under 66 at the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio to lead by two strokes over Kevin Chappell, Dylan Frittelli and Matt Kuchar after the second round.
Palmer, at 10 under, surged into the lead with consecutive birdies midway through the back nine.
Chappell, the 2017 tournament winner, had the day’s low round of 65. Frittelli also got away with no bogeys during his 66, and Kuchar shot a 69 with four consecutive birdies on the back.
Palmer’s last Tour win came in 2019. He took the lead with a five-foot birdie putt at the par-five 14th. At No. 15, he converted another birdie putt inside 10 feet.
“It’s a golf course, if you get it offline, you’re going to struggle,” Palmer said. “I was able to keep the ball in front of me. When I’ve missed fairways, I’ve gotten fortunate breaks, I think. So the weekend, it’s a matter of just avoiding those big misses.”
Hideki Matsuyama withdrew after nine holes Friday because of a sore neck, leaving early ahead of his Masters title defense next week.
Defending champion Jordan Spieth was making a move, getting to four under for his round after a short birdie putt on his 14th hole. He was in good shape for par at the next after chipping to three feet away — where he three-putted. The double bogey put him on the projected cut line. He ultimately made the weekend by two strokes at two under.
It didn’t turn out as well for some other notable names. Bryson DeChambeau triple bogeyed the first hole and missed the cut. Rory McIlroy failed to break par in his two rounds and missed the cut.
J.J. Spaun is in a group of players three strokes back of Palmer. He led during the morning at 10 under when he made an 18-foot birdie at his 14th hole. He finished with three bogeys.
Those joining Spaun at seven under include U.S. Open champions Lucas Glover (66) and Gary Woodland (67), Charles Howell III (67) and Brendon Todd (69).
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