LPGA Tour star Grace Kim has kept herself in contention to take out the first ever Australian WPGA Championship in Brisbane.
- The inaugural WPGA in Brisbane is heating up as youngster Grace Kim snatched the lead from Su Oh on Friday
- Jed Morgan shot a course-record eight-under 63 on his home turf to lead the men’s competition
- This is the first Australian event where the women’s and men’s tournaments are played simultaneously with the winners to receive equal prize money
The 21-year-old’s score at Royal Queensland Golf Club (GC) in Brisbane pushed her to five-under for the tournament and within a shot of overnight leader Su Oh.
Playing in the afternoon slot, Oh began her round with two early birdies before dropping a shot to be six-under through six holes.
The race is even tighter with Sarah-Jane Smith one shot behind Oh, while youngster Karis Davidson is two strokes further back as the 24-strong field contends for the maiden title.
Kim, fresh off a win at Geoff Ogilvy’s Sandbelt Invitational last month, will enter the weekend confident she can reel her in though missing numerous birdie putts for a second-straight day.
“I let a couple slip by, so I’ll be on the putting green very soon,” she said after closing her round with another frustrating par.
“I didn’t really give it a chance. Definitely that’s what caused a couple of loose pars, but in the end as well, it was fine.”
The new event is being played within the Australian PGA Championship, with Kim coincidentally placed in Ogilvy’s group for the first two rounds.
“It was just a round I couldn’t have asked for,” said Kim, who hopes to earn full-time status on the LPGA Tour this year.
“His ideas about giving us more opportunities to play, it’s just so good and … his short game’s unreal.
“Being able to keep himself in play, and not show if he’s playing badly, that’s a big learning curve.”
Ogilvy, who will likely miss the cut after finishing three-over, said Kim was the “complete package” and a product of the legacy left by Karrie Webb, who the new WPGA event’s trophy is named after.
“She doesn’t have a weakness, she wasn’t showing any nerves — the complete package,” he said.
“I was a closet Karrie fan … she’s a legend, she gave the Aussie girls a feeling that ‘wow, we can be the best in the world here’.”
Generous crowds followed their group, Kim obliging the many young girls waiting for her autograph after her round.
The initiative follows the success the Vic Open and Sandbelt Invitational have had as mixed events.
“It just shows how far it elevates the tournament with guys and girls (playing together),” Ogilvy said.
“I love playing with them, they probably really enjoy it too and we get sick of seeing the same smelly old blokes each week.
“Look at the Australian Open tennis; events are just better that way and it’s certainly the future, a formula that would work around the world.”
‘The next Greg Norman’
Meanwhile, Jed Morgan shot a course-record eight-under 63 on his home Royal Queensland track to rocket to the front of the Australian PGA Championship field.
The newly turned professional shot an eight-under 63 — a course record for the newly designed layout — to finish 14-under on Friday.
The 22-year-old led by a staggering six shots midway through the day as overnight pacesetter Louis Dobbelaar endured an even-par round to remain seven-under.
With no US-based stars in the field, the stage is set for a new face to announce themselves with US Open champion Geoff Ogilvy cheekily suggesting after his round that Morgan could be the “next Greg Norman.”
The beneficiary of a Sport Australia Hall of Fame scholarship, Morgan has struck a bond with assigned mentors Ricky Ponting and former Major League Baseball pitcher Graeme Lloyd.
“The pair of them have just opened up their insight and dealing with this sort of stuff,” said Morgan, who saluted to the swelling crowd as he nailed his eighth birdie to complete a memorable round.
“I don’t take too many words or phrases from people, just how they act and they’re both aggressive people and especially when they’re competing that’s how you’ve got to be.”
The tournament, back at RQ for the first time since 2001, wasn’t contested in 2020 and then delayed until early this year due to COVID-19.
That delay meant all of the country’s US-based stars were unable to attend, leaving a wide-open field of Australia’s emerging talent fighting for the $180,000 first prize.
Ogilvy finished three-over and will likely miss the cut, reserving his praise for the new course record holder.
“I don’t know how many people picked him but everybody probably should have,” he said.
“He’s got the golf world at his feet, if it all works out, and he plays well and he takes his opportunities.
“My parents have been dining out forever that they saw Greg Norman win the West Lakes Classic in 1976.
“Nobody knew who he was and he turned up and he won, and the rest is history.
“That goes here. Jed might be the next Greg Norman.”