GALLOWAY, N.J. -- Taking on the Bay Course at the Seaview, A Dolce Hotel for the first time, Frida Kinhult finished Saturday in the top spot on the ShopRite LPGA Classic Presented by Acer leaderboard at -9 after a bogey-free 67. Kinhult, whose 66 on Friday was a career-low 18-hole score, holds a 36-hole lead/co-lead for the first time in her young Tour career.
“I started this year with a missed cut, but since then I had a couple -- like started making cuts but around 56th, 60th place, and then more around 20th place. I think I'm just working my way up,” said Kinhult. “Still waiting for that win, so hopefully this week.”
A victory on Sunday would make her the 13th different Swede to win on the LPGA Tour in its history, and the first since Anna Nordqvist at the 2021 AIG Women’s Open. Kinhult, who finished fourth on the Ascensus Race for the Card in 2020 to become a 2021 Tour rookie, has tasted victory before; she won the 2020 Epson Tour Championship and, while competing at Florida State University, the Seminole won twice and shared ACC Player of the Year honors with Jennifer Kupcho in 2019. The former No. 1 ranked amateur in the world said she’ll use her wealth of amateur and professional experience into the final day in Galloway.
“Tomorrow anything can happen,” said Kinhult, who would be the first Florida State alum to win on Tour since Matilda Castren at the 2021 LPGA MEDIHEAL Championship. “I can't go out and make pars; I'll have to fight for my birdies tomorrow and try to get a low one to get a W.”
Sitting one-shot back of Kinhult is Lauren Coughlin after a second-round 65. This is Coughlin’s first time making the cut at Seaview after missing in her two previous appearances in 2018 and 2021. Coughlin, who is coming off a T2 finish in last week’s Colorado Open, has never finished inside the top-15 in a Tour event in her career.
“I just kind of felt like it was starting to all come together, and I felt yesterday I played really well and was just like this close,” said Coughlin, who has hit every fairway through 36 holes. “Today it finally just all clicked and the putts started going in.”
Morgane Metraux and Jodi Ewart Shadoff sit in a tie for third at -7, with both also looking to become the fifth Rolex First-Time Winner of 2022 along with Kinhult and Coughlin. Lurking at -6 overall and in a tie for fifth are four players, including major champion Lydia Ko, who recorded a bogey-free 6-under 65 that included four birdies in her first eight holes.
“I think being aggressive, but at the same time the greens will get bouncy, so even if you're hitting a wedge it doesn't necessarily mean you're going to be able to hit it super close,” said Ko, who would join Minjee Lee as a multiple victor this season with a win, after already winning the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio. “Being strategic is key and keeping to my own pace and see what happens.”
Five players sit in a tie for fifth at -5, including 2004 champion Brittany Lincicome, major champion Brooke Henderson and New Jersey native Marina Alex. Germany’s Isi Gabsa shot the low round of the tournament through two days with a Saturday 64, tying her career-best round on Tour, and is in a tie for 14th. Overnight leader Stephanie Kyriacou fell to -3 after posting a 2-over 73.
There were 76 players who made the cut at even par, including defending champion Celine Boutier who sits in a tie for 63rd. Dani Holmqvist also made the cut on the number after finishing eagle-eagle on holes 8 and 9. It’s the 24th occurrence of consecutive eagles in one round in Tour history, and the first since Bianca Pagdanganan at the 2020 Dana Open.