Golf: Kim forges two-shot halfway lead in British Open

South Korea's In-Kyung Kim in action during the second round.
South Korea's In-Kyung Kim in action during the second round.PHOTO: REUTERS

ST ANDREWS, United Kingdom (AFP) - South Korea's Kim In-Kyung fired a second-round 68 on Friday (Aug 4) to lead by two shots at the halfway stage of the Women's British Open, as she seeks to banish the memories of a major meltdown from five years ago.

American Lexi Thompson, the world number two, and England's Georgia Hall both hit career-best birdie streaks in difficult conditions at Kingsbarns to share second place on nine under.

Kim, who famously missed a one-foot putt for a first major victory at the 2012 ANA Inspiration, highlighted her round with an eagle at the long 11th.

A birdie in the worst of the weather at the 17th helped her reach an impressive 11 under par for the tournament.

"The last four holes were particularly bad," said the 29-year-old of the wild conditions. "I didn't know what I was shooting. I was a bit worried we wouldn't get finished. We had also fallen behind and were warned for slow play.

"The weather was about the worst I have played in, but the eagle at the 11th was quite unexpected. I hit a five wood to the front of the green and then the putt went right in the middle." Thompson is benefitting from some extra expert knowledge this week, and she put it to good use to card a 68.

Since March, Thompson has employed Scottish caddie Kevin McAlpine. The bonus is that he spent part of his youth caddying at Kingsbarns.

"He's told me everything about the course," said the Florida golfer, whose only major win to date came in the 2014 ANA Inspiration at Mission Hills in California.

"He knows exactly where to land the ball and reads the greens. We also laugh and joke a lot between shots."

Thompson and McAlpine had just started working as a partnership when she was slapped with a four-shot penalty over a ball-marking incident that was reported by a television viewer and contributed to her losing out in a play-off in the season's ANA Inspiration.

But she did make it into the winner's circle at the Kingmills Championship in May - and has also finished second four times.

A win on Sunday would help erase the unhappy memory of Mission Hills, and she made her move in the relatively calm morning conditions with a run of five birdies in a row from the turn in a back nine of 30.

"I suddenly got on a roll on the back nine," she said. "Kevin would give me a line and I would aim at the pin and go for it."

Hall, 21, is still awaiting her first professional victory, but the consistent youngster has already done enough to head the European Solheim Cup rankings. The line-up for this month's match at Des Moines in Iowa will be finalised on Sunday.

The former Curtis Cup amateur had her birdie blitz on the front nine, making four in a row from the second. Her 67 was the joint best score of the day.

Michelle Wie, who led after a course-record first round of 64, double-bogeyed the 17th and slipped back to four under after a 76.

Defending champion Ariya Jutanugarn missed the cut by five shots on four over par after a second-round 77 that included six shots in a bunker and a nine at the par-three 12th.