Scorcher all around at KPMG Women's PGA Championship heading into weekend

Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Scorcher all around at KPMG Women's PGA Championship heading into weekend

LPGA Tour

Scorcher all around at KPMG Women's PGA Championship heading into weekend

KILDEER, Ill. – The cauldron that was Kemper Lakes Golf Club on Friday afternoon featured a feels-like temperature of 106 degrees. A trio of major winners who teed off early in suburban Chicago – Brooke Henderson, So Yeon Ryu and Sung Hyun Park – maintained their position atop the KPMG Women’s PGA at 6-under 138 by day’s end.

Ryu, who was serenaded on the 18th hole by fans and presented cake in a cup, could’ve downed a tub of ice cream on her 28th birthday and still not cooled off. The two-time major winner was all smiles after a second consecutive 69.

“I think golf is definitely a funny game,” said Ryu, “because yesterday I thought I hit it just really, really perfect, like I just couldn’t ask more, and then I shot 3 under. And then compared to yesterday, I felt like I absolutely hit it everywhere out there but still shot 3 under. That was really good learning. You don’t have to be perfect to shoot 3under.”

It’s an attitude that should serve her well heading into the weekend, where the pressure will be as high as the temperature.

Henderson, the 2016 KPMG champion, felt better about her up-and-down 71 after a 12-foot birdie putt fell at the 18th. Nerves might have played a part in the early bogeys, she said, but rebounding with red numbers is a good sign. And she’s doing that more and more each week.

Winning the KPMG at 18 years, nine months and two days meant that Henderson never had to answer any questions about claiming a major title. Early success took some of the pressure off, she said. The Canadian star became the youngest winner in the history of this event two year ago at Sahalee, and the second-youngest major winner of all-time behind Lydia Ko.

“In moments when I’m making putts and when I’m at major championships,” said Henderson, “I just feel a little bit more relaxed and calmer just because I know I’ve been in this position before, and I’ve been able to succeed doing it.”

Henderson especially loves the atmosphere at the Women’s PGA, where she’s gone T-5/1/2 in her three appearances. The former hockey goalie prefers tough tracks that play long, and Kemper Lakes fits the bill.

Lydia Ko posted the lowest round of the day by two shots thank to a superb day on the greens. The former No. 1 notched eight birdies in her second-round 66, vaulting from T-86 to T-5.

“It was really frustrating yesterday because I hit the ball pretty good, apart from a little bit of some trouble that I saw on the 18th, but I just couldn’t get anything rolling,” said Ko, “and just to be able to make a putt straight out of the gate I think was a big momentum changer.”

Spain’s Carlota Ciganda sits alone in fourth at 5 under while a couple of recent winners in Moriya Jutanugarn and Annie Park join Ko at 4 under.

“I’m tired,” said the soft-spoken Ciganda after her 60. “I can’t even think.”

Jaye Marie Green threatened to take the overall lead in the event when she got to 6 under with three holes to play. A triple-bogey seven on the par-3 17th, however, dropped her to down the board to a share of eighth at 3 under. Her second-round 74 also included a double-bogey.

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