Saturday at the Country Club of Winter Haven belonged to Kum-Kang Park. The 20-year-old from Seoul, Republic of Korea signed for a bogey-free, 5-under par 67 to hold a one-shot lead after 36 holes at 7-under overall in the 13th annual Florida’s Natural Charity Classic.
Like the rest of the 132-player field, Park battled strong, steady winds with gusts up to 30 mph.
“There was a lot of wind, so I tried to wait and be patient during my play. I think that strategy worked well,” said Park, who hit 15 greens in regulation. “The greens were fast, so I tried to slow my tempo and it worked well. I think tomorrow will be similar with a bit of wind, but the goal is to not overdo things, not get greedy, protect the lead and be patient.”
A winner as an Epson Tour rookie at the 2021 Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout, Park is settling into life on the road in the U.S., now in her second season on the “Road to the LPGA.” Park did not lead until the last putt in her victory last September in El Dorado, Ark., so Sunday in Winter Haven, Fla. will be a new experience.
“Last year, I came to the U.S. by myself and couldn’t get much coaching and there were lot of difficulties. But this is my second year, so I’ve become more comfortable and used to the courses too,” Park said.
Florida State University alumna Frida Kinhult (70) and 18-hole leader Min-G Kim (71) are tied for second at 6-under overall. Kinhult will join Park in the final grouping off No. 1 tee Sunday afternoon in search of her second Epson Tour title—to join the 2020 Epson Tour Championship—as Kim hunts for her first.
“Another windy day, and another day where I tried to have patience in the back of my mind,” Kinhult said. “People are going to have bogeys out here. There are a couple of tight tee shots and with the wind, it's tough but I just tried to hang in there and use my opportunities when I got close.”
Maria Torres, the first Puerto Rican to earn LPGA Tour membership, fired a second-round 69 and sits in a tie for fourth with Weiwei Zhang (70) at 5-under overall. Natalie Srinivasan (71) finds herself alone in sixth, while six players are tied for seventh at 2-under par, including Epson Tour winner Sarah White, who recorded seven birdies in the second round. Windermere native and University of Florida alumna Samantha Wagner carded a second straight 1-over 73 to share 32nd. Klara Spilkova withdrew on her 12th hole of the day and a total of 61 players made the cut of 4-over par.