A birdie finish by Hee Young Park put her on level pegging with overnight leader Inbee Park at eleven under par at the half way stage of the HSBC Women’s World Championship at Sentosa Golf Club, Singapore.

With five birdies and a single bogey, Hee Young Park signed for a round of four under par 68 on the New Tanjong course. The 33-year old, whose relationship with Inbee goes back to middle school in South Korea, credited her friend and fellow competitor with her form in round two.

“I think when I have good competitor out there with similar score or anything with same level line, I think good really to keep pushing, play aggressive. So really good for me, challenging out there. So, I think I’m in a really good position right now.”

The last of Hee Young Park’s three wins on the LPGA Tour came at the ISPS Handa Vic Open at the start of 2020. Describing her final shot of the round, she added: “I think the best putt of the year.”

With challenging pin positions and some wind to contend with, Inbee Park had a quiet day by her standards, closing for a three under par score of 69. The two-time champion at Sentosa dropped shots on the third and twelfth holes and found herself fighting to save par on more than one occasion. But she’ll take confidence that her name remains at the top of the leader board as the tournament heads into the weekend.

“It was a little betrayal of my putter today. Misread a few putts, but I still feel like I fought pretty well, especially the front nine. One through six was pretty tough with a lot of opportunities given but nothing was going in. I was just trying to get my momentum going, and No. 7 definitely did it and from there, the round was a bit easier. A little rough start,” said Park.

“Hee Young and I are almost the same age and we are a little more oldies on the Tour. We were talking about how the weather is just killing us because we are not as young as like ten years ago. We had great fun out there with Hee Young. She played great. She always has a great swing and she’s a great ball-striker. I’m looking forward to playing with her tomorrow again and hopefully we play good golf the next two days,” she added.

Two shots back and tied at nine-under par are fellow South Korean Hyo Joo Kim and Xiyu Lin of China, both carding rounds of four under par 68. Spain’s Carlota Ciganda shot an impressive five under par to move up to fifth place alongside So Yeon Ryu of South Korea.

Australia’s Hannah Green equalled the low score of the day – a six-under par 66 to bring her up to seventh place alongside Lydia Ko of New Zealand, Amy Yang of South Korea and German duo Caroline Masson and Sophia Popov. 

Clearly enjoying the experience of playing in this part of the world, Green said:

“This is my first time in Thailand and Singapore, so I’m super excited to be here. I think that’s really helping me try to beat this heat which I’m not very good with. 

“It’s a limited field and we’re very fortunate to be playing for great money and the sponsors love having us here, and just grateful to be coming here. These are the only two countries I really haven’t been to in Asia to play golf, which is unusual since I’m so close. Perth is a five-hour flight in the same time zone. First time in 2021 seems a bit different. Feel very welcome here in Singapore.”

Lydia Ko will be one to watch over the weekend. She’s in Singapore on the back of a win at the LOTTE Championship a fortnight ago and a second-place finish at the ANA Inspiration a week before.

“I holed some really good putts, especially on my front nine today. For the most part, I feel like the game has been pretty solid, not making too many mistakes and I think that’s really important around here, especially it seems like some players are shooting a low one here and there. I’m just trying to keep up with the field, go with it, and just be aggressive and confident when I’m out there playing.”

“I think I’ve just got to focus on my game and see where it takes me and keep playing solid and stay cool out there and see where I end up on Sunday,” added Ko.

Playing for her first time in Singapore, Sophia Popov remains very much in contention at the half way stage of the tournament. Showing just how demanding the hot and humid conditions are on both players and caddies, the 28-year old from Heidelberg found herself carrying her own bag for the final holes of the round after her caddy was forced to retire with dehydration.