(Reuters) – South Korea’s Kim A Lim posted the round of the week to jump to the top of the Chevron Championship leaderboard on Friday before second round play at the year’s first women’s major was halted due to darkness at Houston’s The Club at Carlton Woods.
Kim, who won the 2020 U.S. Open at another Houston area layout the Champions Club, returned a seven-under 65 to sit one clear of Americans Lilia Vu and Megan Khang.
With the start of second round play delayed by two hours due to torrential overnight rain golfers scrambled to complete their rounds.
But 31 players eventually surrendered to the darkness, including Canada’s Brooke Henderson, who was just off the 18th green three off the lead and opted to return early Saturday to complete the round while her playing partners putted out.
“It was really, really dark,” said Henderson, the world number seven.
“I’m just over the back. That was fine enough to see, but around the greens I needed a little bit more light to make sure, because I want to take advantage of this opportunity to make birdie.”
For much of the day Vu, who was out in the morning wave, sat alone atop the leaderboard with no one able to better her midway total of seven-under 137.
Kim did not look like the one to knock Vu from her perch after a bogey on her opening hole but kept a clean card the rest of way while piling up eight birdies for a three-under 69 while Khang returned a bogey free 67.
Lurking one shot further back two off the pace are major winners world number two Nelly Korda and Thailand’s Patty Tavatanakit.
Korda, hunting a second major following her triumph at the 2021 Women’s PGA Championship, had another rollercoaster day, mixing five birdies with three bogeys for a two-under 70.
“There are bogeys out there and you try to minimise your mistakes as much as possible,” said Korda.
“I was punching the air a couple of times after my two three-putts, which are kind of stupid mistakes, but you just kind of have to stay mentally tough and know that there are some birdie opportunities as well.”
Tavatanakit, who led wire-to-wire winning the 2021 Chevron, then known as the ANA Inspiration, posted a five-under 67 highlighted by five birdies in a bogey free outward nine and a birdie-birdie finish.
Defending champion Jennifer Kupcho saw her hope of a repeat all but disappear with a six-over 78 that included a triple-bogey, double-bogey and three bogeys against two birdies.
The round left the American on six-over for the tournament well adrift of the projected one-over cut.
Also in real danger of missing the cut is world number one Lydia Ko, who was on three-over with two holes to complete when play was halted.
(This story has been refiled to add a dropped letter in ‘Brooke’ in paragraph 4)
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Ken Ferris and Kim Coghill)