Icher had five birdies against one bogey to move to 5-under for the tournament on the par-72, 6,364-yard Ocean Course at the Sky72 Golf and Resort club in Incheon. The $2 million event is the only LPGA Tour stop in South Korea each year.
The Frenchwoman started the day at 1-under, tied for 15th, but picked up her first birdie on the opening hole. She then closed the round with three birdies on the final four holes.
The wind didn’t blow as hard on Friday as it did a day earlier, but Icher said she played “a completely different course” in the second round because of the changing directions of the wind.
|Karine Icher watches her shot on the fourth hole during the second round of the LPGA KEB-HanaBank Championship golf tournament at Sky72 Golf Club in Incheon on Friday. (AP-Yonhap)|
She said her last-minute work with her coach, Brian Moog, helped her get to the top midway through the tournament.
“This week, my coach was here and we practiced a lot of low shots,” she said. “It seemed to pay off. Here, it’s always windy.
I’ve never played in Korea without wind. Low shots are pretty strong in my game now.”
Icher has five victories on the Ladies European Tour but none on the U.S. circuit. She said she’d like to end her drought here and added, “There‘s nothing else I am looking for.”
Beatriz Recari of Spain and American Brittany Lincicome are one stroke behind Icher. Both shot their second straight 70 on Friday to sit at 4-under.
They are one shot ahead of six golfers, including the 2012 champ Suzann Pettersen.
World No. 2 Park In-bee, who can supplant Stacy Lewis as the No. 1 golfer with a win this week, was 1-over 73 on Friday after two birdies and three bogeys. She fell to even-par for the event, in a six-way tie for 24th.
Lydia Ko, the third-ranked player, shot a 69 Friday to move to 2-under after two rounds.
She too can rise to No. 1 if she wins this week and Park finishes in a three-way tie for second or worse.
First round leader Kang Hae-ji stumbled to a 3-over 75 on Friday to drop to 2-under for the tournament.
Defending champ Amy Yang, who shot a solid 69 Thursday, fell apart on Friday to card a 79, with eight bogeys and one birdie.
Chun In-gee of South Korea had the lowest round of the day at 5-under 67, which got her to 1-under for the tournament, good for a tie for 14th place.
Though the tournament expanded from 54 holes to 72 holes this year, there are no cuts here after two rounds.