(Reuters) – British teenager Charley Hull coped well with gusting winds as she moved into a three-way tie for the lead after Friday’s second round in the season-opening Pure Silk-Bahamas LPGA Classic at Paradise Island.
The 19-year-old Englishwoman, who has yet to win her first LPGA title, birdied three of her last eight holes to card a three-under-par 70 on a sun-kissed day at the picturesque Ocean Club Golf Course.
Hull, whose only victory on her home Ladies European Tour came at the 2014 Lalla Meryem Cup, posted an eight-under total of 138 to finish level with American Megan Khang (68) and Japan’s Haru Nomura (70).
Defending champion Kim Sei-young, who won last year’s title in a three-way playoff, carded a 68 to share fourth place at seven under with fellow South Korean Kwak Min-seo (70), Swede Anna Nordqvist (69) and Scotland’s Catriona Matthew (71).
“I’m just staying in there,” Hull told Golf Channel about the challenge of trying to keep momentum in Friday’s shifting breezes. “It’s very windy out there and you know you’re going to hit some bad shots and it’s going to drift off in the wind.
“I feel like my short game was tidy on a few shots today when I had to get up and down and I got up and down, so it was good. You’ve just to keep steady out there, keep patient. Everyone is playing in the wind so you’ve got to keep focussed.”
Hull, who was first introduced to golf at the age of two and left school at 13 to be home schooled while she also competed in amateur tournaments, has always enjoyed testing her game in strong winds.
“It does give me an advantage because I’ve grown up playing in windy conditions for the British amateurs,” she smiled. “It’s a lot of fun. I enjoy it.”
Hull, who has twice competed for Europe against the United States in the Solheim Cup team competition, has recorded five top-10s on the LPGA Tour, her best finish a tie for third at the 2014 Airbus LPGA Classic.
American Paula Creamer, a 10-time winner on the LPGA Tour, briefly got to nine under late in her round before finishing with a double, a bogey and a birdie for a 72 and a share of eighth place at six under.
“For those first 15 holes or so, I hit the ball great,” said the 29-year-old. “I hit the ball great. One bad swing on 16 and then it kind of came off a little bit. But there’s tons of golf left.”
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Steve Keating)