Round Two of the Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout has come to a close, and there is a solo leader in El Dorado. The weather was perfect for scoring, with hot conditions and little wind, but Mystic Creek Golf Club showed again why it is one of the most challenging stops on tour. Three players were able to post a score of 67 or better, and only five players were able to break 70 on the day.
Karen Chung was one of the three players that carded a round of 67 or better, with a 5-under bogey-free round of 67. Chung has been rounding into form in her last two events, collecting back-to-back finishes in the top 10, and has turned in 8-straight rounds under par. The 28-year-old has dual status for her 2023 season but has been focusing on the Epson Tour as of late, trying to make it to and stay inside the top 35. Chung has not been able to get her hands on a trophy in her time on the Epson Tour, but she has racked up 19 top-10 finishes in her career, showing she has the game to compete and win.
“I am honestly just going to try and do the same things I have been doing the last 48 hours, as cliche as that sounds,” said Chung. “I am not going to push anything and just play it safe and see if I can roll in a few more birdies out there tomorrow. I have definitely been thinking about trying to get inside that top 35 mark as well, but if I am honest, I didn’t check where I was before this week, so I have no idea where I stand but I know I am around the 35 number.”
As mentioned, Chung has yet to pick up her first win, and the nerves were already starting early in her second round. Even with the nerves beginning early, the front nine was Chung’s best nine of the day, dropping four birdies on her way to a 4-under 32. The second-round leader also has a unique technique to take on Mystic Creek Golf Club that has nothing to do with how she has been playing this week.
“I am so nervous out there, I feel like I blacked out on the front nine, I barely remember anything from those nine holes,” said Chung with a smile. “I also have to say because of the heat, Liquid IVs have been one of the biggest parts of my game outside of how I have been hitting the ball.”
Natasha Andrea Oon is one round away from possibly earning her 2024 LPGA Tour card and first career Epson Tour victory. Oon was tied for the lead entering the day and signed for a 2-under round of 70 in her second round. She did not have her A-game on day two but is only two shots off the lead with just 18 holes to play. The day was colorful for the rookie, who had seven birdies, three bogeys, and a double bogey on the card. Oon was aware of the colorful card and was on what felt like a roller-coaster for 18 holes.
“I felt like Picasso,” said Oon. “At the start, I was thinking today was going to be low. I felt like I had it and then I didn’t. This course, if you just hit a little bit off your line, you have a weird chip. Today I wasn’t hitting it as well or putting it as well. It was a 70% type of day, but I had so many birdies.”
Sitting in a tie for third and three shots back is Kristen Gillman. The 26-year-old had the round of the day and tournament so far, posting a 6-under 66 in round two. The University of Alabama alumna would also take home her first Epson Tour victory with a win tomorrow, but Gillman has experience winning at a high level. Gillman is a two-time U.S. Women’s Amateur champion and knows how to handle pressure situations coming down the stretch in important events. If someone can make a run at the lead on the final day, Gillman may be the name to look for at the top of the leaderboard.
“I feel like this golf course suits my eye really well. The tougher golf courses we play, where you have to think through your shots and place the ball well, I play good at. I was excited coming into this week because I had a feeling I would like this golf course. You just know you don’t have to go super low, but you also know you have to hit some really good shots, so the overall creativity of playing tougher courses just fits my game well.”
Miranda Wang is at 6-under total and joins Gillman in a tie for third to round out the top of the leaderboard after 36 holes of play at the Murphy USA El Dorado Shootout. Wang will try and take home her second trophy of the year when the final round starts tomorrow at 7:30 a.m. CT.
Miranda Wang (-6, T3) on what she needs to do to compete tomorrow:
“I definitely feel like my irons and putting are the best part of my game right now. I feel really good about them, but my tee shots have been a little bit off. I have been talking to my coach and we are starting to get my tee shots back on line, so hopefully, it comes around soon. If I can hit my driver well tomorrow, I will feel very confident on the course.”
Carley Cox (-4, T5) on trending in the right direction at the right time:
“I had a good week last week, so I knew my ball striking has been pretty good. You come into a course like this that’s demanding; not only is it good enough to hit the green, but you have to be on the right spot of the green. It’s great to be trending around the end of the season and the time Q-School comes. I’m just enjoying it, honestly. It’s great to play great, and you savor it because golf’s not always in your favor, so I’m very thankful.”
Isabella Fierro (-3, T9) on her ninth straight under-par round:
“The biggest key this week is just keeping the ball in play out here. A lot of pins are no-go’s, you just have to hit it to the center of the green. I have played similar courses to this so I had a good gameplay coming into this week. There’s nothing to lose over these last few weeks. I feel good, my game feels good and I have my mom on the bag and we are having a blast. Just going to keep the same positive mentality and hopefully keep it going tomorrow and for the rest of the year.”