NAPLES — Golf felt so easy to Sung Hyun Park that only when she took out her card to catch up on her scores did she realize she had closed out the front nine with five straight birdies Friday at the Tour Championship.
Park kept right on attacking.
The South Korean added a 30-foot eagle putt late in her second round and finished with 7-under 65, giving her a three-shot lead going into the weekend at Tiburon Golf Club.
Nothing seems to bother her, even the chance to cap an amazing rookie season by sweeping all the big awards on the LPGA Tour.
"To be honest, I don't feel quite as nervous as I thought I would," Park said through an interpreter. "After the first shot, after the first hole, I felt a lot more comfortable. I'm not feeling as nervous as I thought I might be."
Leave that to the players chasing her.
Even with a three-putt bogey on the final hole, Park was at 12-under 132 and three shots clear of Caroline Masson (66) and Sarah Jane Smith (69).
None of the other players in the chase for the $1 million Race to the CME Globe bonus or any other big award was within five shots of Park, who is trying to become the first rookie since Nancy Lopez in 1978 to win LPGA player of the year.
Lexi Thompson, who leads the Race to the CME Globe and the Vare Trophy for lowest adjusted scoring average, shot 67 and lost ground. She was six shots behind and must stay within 10 shots of Park to win the Vare.
So Yeon Ryu, who leads the points-based award for player of the year, managed 71 with her sore right shoulder but was 11 shots back.
PGA EUROPE: Defending champion Matthew Fitzpatrick shot a second straight 5-under 67 to secure a one-stroke lead halfway through the season-ending Tour Championship in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. At 10-under 134, Fitzpatrick was edging English compatriot Tyrrell Hatton, who moved into contention with 63. Overnight leader Patrick Reed shot 72 and fell three back.
PGA: Rookie Austin Cook sank a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic in St. Simons Island, Ga. Cook has gone 36 holes without bogey on the Plantation Course or the Seaside Course at Sea Island Golf Club. He was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64. Overnight leader Chris Kirk shot 70 and was five strokes back.