SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – Eight years ago, I.K. Kim and Inbee Park went head to head in the final of the 2005 U.S. Girls’ Junior at BanBury Golf Course in Eagle, Idaho, with Kim winning in 14 holes.
During the second round of the 2013 U.S. Women’s Open, Kim and Park were on the course at Sebonack Golf Club at the same time for just 10 minutes. Kim was walking down the ninth fairway, her last of the day, as Park was starting her round on the first tee, a couple of hundreds of yards away.
Given how well both are playing, they seem to be on track to face off against each other for another USGA championship.
Kim missed a 12-foot birdie putt on the ninth green to finish her round of 3-under 69, which was played in conditions that seemed to change with every hole following the overnight rain. The wind, which shifted in intensity and direction through the morning, was accompanied by a sky that was by turns overcast, foggy and sunny.
In the varying conditions, the constant for much of the day has been Kim’s position atop the leader board. Starting one stroke behind Park, she took the lead halfway through her round and retained it, finishing at 7-under 137 after 36 holes.
“Anything under par I thought was going to be a great score,” said Kim, who has finished in the top 10 in four of the past five U.S. Women’s Opens. “Definitely more wind out there. The wind was a little different direction and it was changing a little bit. Definitely tricky to adjust to the wind on some holes.
“But the greens were a little softer with the rain. So I was able to give myself some chances.”
Due to the wind, Sebonack has been more difficult in the second round, producing a scoring average (76.52) that is more than a stroke higher than it was yesterday. Still, several other players besides Kim managed scores in the 60s. Angela Stanford made the biggest move, shooting 4-under 68 to move to 3 under, while 2011 U.S. Women’s Open champion So Yeon Ryu also shot 69 and is at 2 under.
“I really like [the course],” said Stanford, who lost to Hilary Lunke in a U.S. Women’s Open playoff 10 years ago. “But if the USGA has its way here, we could all look very foolish. I think they’ve been generous so far. This course could get a lot harder.”
For the second day, Sebonack was set up more than 200 yards shorter than the published yardage in anticipation of the wind that normally sweeps across the course, which is set on a bluff overlooking Great Peconic Bay.
The wind usually peaks in intensity in the late afternoon, just when Park, the 2008 U.S. Women’s Open champion, will be playing a six-hole stretch, from the 11th through the 16th, that includes the four most difficult holes: the 11th, 12th, 14th and 16th. How she handles this gauntlet will determine whether there will be a Kim-Park rematch this weekend.
“There is a lot of golf to play and you never know what is going to happen,” said Kim. “That is the beauty of major championships.”
Hunki Yun is the USGA’s digital producer and content manager. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.