Kirk slips down LPGA leaderboard

P – Katherine Kirk was nine shots worse on Friday than her red-hot first round to fall from the top of the leaderboard at the LPGA Tour’s Meijer Classic in Michigan.

Following a seven-under 64 at Blythefield Country Club in Grand Rapids that put Kirk in a share of the lead, the Australian carded a 73 to be equal 13th at five-under, four shots behind leaders Lexi Thompson, Alison Lee and Lizette Salas.

Kirk took advantage of little wind and soft greens on Thursday, but couldn’t get in the groove in the second round that included a double-bogey on the 17th and bogey on the 18th.

Of the other Australians, Minjee Lee (68), Sarah Jane Smith (70) and Sarah Kemp (71) are all at four-under – while veteran Wendy Doolan (73) missed the cut.

Thompson birdied six of the first eight holes and had one more for a season-best seven-under 64 and nine-under overall.

Lee, the 20-year-old in her first season on the tour, had a 66, and playing partner Salas shot a 69.

Kris Tamulis closed with a bogey on the par-4 ninth to drop into a tie for fourth at eight-under with Gerina Piller, Jaye Marie Green, Wei-Ling Hsu and Q Baek.

Top-ranked Inbee Park, a playoff loser last year in the inaugural event, was tied for 18th at four-under after a 68.

Thompson, winless since taking the then-Kraft Nabisco last year for her first major title, took advantage of early windless scoring conditions.

“The greens were rolling really well out there early in the morning, so it was nice,” Thompson said.

“Playing in the morning without the wind and the greens are a little bit softer in the morning so it’s easier to just control the way your irons are going to bounce out into the green. It was a lot easier to control than (Thursday) afternoon.”

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