(REUTERS) - South Korea's Kim In Kyung took advantage of greens softened by overnight rain to hold an early three-shot clubhouse lead in Friday's second round of the United States (US) Women's Open in Southampton, New York.
Despite gusting winds and several tough pin positions at Sebonack Country Club, Kim produced some pinpoint approach play as she fired a three-under-par 69 to take control of the third women's major of the season.
The 25-year-old Korean, seeking her first major victory and a fourth win on the LPGA Tour, mixed five birdies with two bogeys to post a seven-under total of 137, finishing three ahead of American Lizette Salas, who carded an even 72.
"I felt good out there," Kim told reporters after making two birdies in her last three holes, at the seventh and eighth. "Definitely more wind out there but the greens were a little softer with the rain, so I was able to give myself some chances.
"I did a lot of preparation this winter and all the hard work kind of pays off but still there's a lot of golf to play.
"I feel confident because I feel I have been in contention a few times this year," said the Korean, who has posted six top-10s in 12 starts on the 2013 LPGA Tour, including a tie for fourth at last week's Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.
Asked to assess her position going into the weekend, Kim replied: "I have come a long way the last two days. When you start a US Open, you can't really tell what score you are going to have.
"I think that kind of helps me too. I don't really think of the score too much."
Angela Stanford (68) and fellow American Jessica Korda (71) were a further stroke back at three under while overnight leader Kim Ha Neul of South Korea was six off the pace after battling to a 77.
South Korean Ryu So Yeon (69) and Swede Anna Nordqvist (74) were knotted at two under.
However, early second-round leader Kim will be keeping an especially close eye on her compatriot Park Inbee, the pre-tournament favourite, who was among the day's late starters as she bids for a third major crown this year.
South Korean world number one Park had charged into contention with an opening 67 on Thursday and was one under for the day on Friday after six holes.
The cut was projected to fall at four-over 148 with Taiwan's former world number one Yani Tseng, a five-times major winner, and reigning Women's British Open champion Shin Ji Yai of South Korea among those likely to miss out.