Amy Yang in action today – image PGA of America

34-year-old South Korean Amy Yang has taken a share of the halfway lead at the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at the Sahalee Country Club near Seattle, a bogey-free best of the day round of 67 having her join the early day two leader, American Sarah Schmelzel.

Yang has strong connections to Australia, especially Queensland, having attended high school on the Gold Coast and, at 16, winning the Australian Ladies Masters before turning professional soon after.

Yang has won five events on the LPGA Tour in addition to events on the Ladies European Tour and the Korean LPGA Tour and although yet to win a major title, she has recorded numerous (21) top tens at that level, two of those runner-up.

Her performance this week has been somewhat of a turnaround in form for her given that she has yet to record a top-ten finish in 2024 and has missed the cut in three of her last four starts but she has a proven record on the big stage and they don’t come much bigger than this week.

“You know, obviously my back had been bothering me last few days, but I was still striking the ball really well like yesterday, and so I thought it would be fine,” said Yang.

“I woke up today and starting few holes was feeling a little pain on my lower back, but I fight through really well and that actually gave me more like focus out there. Make sure I put even more like focus on each shot.”

Yang’s win in the season ending CME last year against such a strong field gave further proof of just how good she can be when it all fulls into place and she indicated as much.

“Definitely gave me a lot of confidence after CME, but also I had some up and downs beginning of the season. So I have to, you know, stay focused and just see what I can do and enjoy.”

30-year-old Schmelzel is into her 6th season on the LPGA Tour but has yet to win an event but today she joined Yang and South Korean Haeran Ryu in recording the best rounds of the day to move into the lead when she finished her round some seven hours ahead of Yang.

Advice from a new instructor has helped Schmelzel take a new frame of mind on to the golf course.

“I saw him after I guess that was U.S. Open,” she said after he round. “I went to go see him and I played — honestly I started to hit it well again at Founders and hit it really well at the U.S. Open; just didn’t putt very well.

“He just told me, I was kind of in that perfection frame of mind. Like, what do I need to do to play well? He said you’re going to play well. Relax and it’s going to happen and believe it.

“So I’ve just been last few weeks thinking of that. Saw some really positive stuff last week and took that into this week.

“He’s just been amazing at the mental side and the process side of it. Really got me dialed into this is your game plan of the day. If you continue to take care of each day then the bigger things will happen, and that’s really helped me just let go of all the other stuff, all the end goals and that kind of thing, and just really focus on the process.”

The pair lead by two over a resurgent Lexi Thompson, Hinako Shibuno and former world number one Jin Young Ko.

Thompson announced recently that this year would be her last as a full-time competitor on the LPGA Tour and given a runner-up placing last week and a great start this week it will be interesting to see if her decision is not reversed.

The Australasian challenge is currently led by Sydney’s Stephanie Kyriacou who is in a share of 12th place at 1 under and five off the lead.

Minjee Lee is 33rd while Hannah Green, Grace Kim, Gabi Ruffels and Lydia Ko are tied in 52nd place at 2 over and eight off the lead.

The shock of the day was the performance of world number one, Nelly Korda, who after an opening round of 69 on Thursday slumped to a round of 81 today to miss the cut by one

“It’s just golf recently for me,” said Korda. “No words for how I’m playing right now. I’m just going to go home and try to reset.”

A lot went my way at the beginning part of the year, and just giving it back.” she added referring to her six titles earlier in the season.