Grace Kim in action today – photo PGA of Australia

Sydney’s Grace Kim leads the Fortinet Australian Women’s PGA Championship through 36 holes at the Royal Queensland Golf Club, the recently turned professional adding a round of 68 to her opening 69 to lead by one over the pre-tournament favourite, Su Oh, with another of those favoured to do well this week, Sarah Jane Smith, just one further back.

21 year old Kim, the current Australian Women’s Amateur Champion but now a professional, hails from the Avondale Golf Club on Sydney’s North Shore and turned professional in September.

Unable to secure LPGA Tour status via the recent qualifying process, she did secure conditional status on the secondary and feeder Symetra Tour and is destined to work her way to the big time via that process.

“I’ve got the majority of the Aussie schedule/tournaments coming up, play all the players series and then hopefully I’ll be able to head back to the US around mid-April or May and start my Symetra schedule over there.

“I’ve just currently got a conditional status, so I’m going to try my best to play as many as I can.”

Back to her impressive round of 68 this morning and Kim highlighted the need for strategy around the Royal Queensland layout.

“Yes, you’ve got to be strategic around this golf course and I feel like I forced a couple of shots yesterday, just because of the wind, hence I missed a couple of fairways or missed a couple of greens here and there, but yes, like you said, you’ve got to be placing yourself well on the golf course and missing it on the right side.”

When asked what she is learning in the early stages of her professional career Kim responded;

“I think the biggest lesson – well, I’m still learning – is just to be calm and collected on the golf course.  I’ve seen Geoff, Geoff didn’t do too well today and he might not be that happy with himself, but I thought he did really good to be able to just keep it in the game and obviously not get too emotional.

“I think towards the end of my amateur career I definitely was a bit too emotional with my shots and yeah, it was so nice to be able to see from, even with his career, he’s still able to just stay in the present, you know, one shot at a time and his short game – wow – I wish I had a short game.”

Oh, a former Australian Ladies Masters Champion, plays the LPGA Tour but has yet to win there. Today she was unable to repeat her fast start of yesterday when opening with a round of 66 despite a fast start to her second round when recording birdies at her 2nd and 4th holes.

She would drop three shots in six holes in the middle of her round but got things back on track with a birdie at the 12th and eventually finished with 72.

“Yesterday was a lot easier I think,” said Oh.  “I wasn’t really that far off today, just you don’t really have to be far off here to miss the green or miss or tee.  Just a couple of yards short here and there, probably missed two short putts, which didn’t help.  Yeah, just very grainy on the greens, really couldn’t get much going today, but finished par/par, so happy days.

Smith too made a fast start but like Oh she struggled through the middle of her round before steadying the ship with a birdie at the 16th and although she missed a very makeable chance at the last she is nicely poised as the event heads into the weekend.

Su Oh today – photo Bruce Young

Smith has just regained her playing status for the LPGA tour which she lost late in 2021. She managed to regain her card at the recent Q School and will head back to play the LPGA tour again on Tuesday.

She would say after her round today that the exhausting and nerve-racking process of the Tour School may well have helped her career.

“I mean, I think having Q-School last year and last year as in like four weeks ago, I think that’s going to be the best thing for me for the rest of my career, I think, because there’s nothing ever going to feel like that.  That was the most pressure I think I’ve ever felt.

“It’s for my career really, because I don’t know what I would have done had I actually missed that.  That was I think the most pressure I’ll ever feel, I think to have the opportunity to win something as opposed to lose something, it’s just a totally different pressure.  So I hope that if that was to come, then I would do a lot better.”

Smith has seldom won in her now lengthy career but she is a player good enough to contend for this title over the weekend.

Importantly, the winner of the women’s event secures a cheque for A$180,000, the same winning cheque as the men so there is a lot at stake for the winner of this inaugural WPGA Championship.