After round two of the 70th KPMG Women's PGA Championship, Sarah Schmelzel and Amy Yang share the lead, whilst Nelly Korda misses the cut

It was a tale of two halves as two players sit at the top of the leaderboard after the second round at the 70th KPMG Women's PGA Championship, one emerging from the morning groups and the other in the afternoon wave.

First to reach the top was Sarah Schmelzel who was part of the third group to tee off the first hole on Friday morning. Three birdies on the front nine were backed up by a fourth on the 10th hole, the only minor blip on her scorecard was a bogey at the par 3 13th hole.

As she headed to the 17th tee, she was sharing the lead but a birdie, birdie finish jumped her to the top where she set the target for the rest of the field.

Watch round two highlights from the 70th KPMG Women's PGA Championship

Normally a glance at the leaderboard to see that you're tied for the lead may pile on the pressure, but the American used this as an incentive to finish strong:

"I kind of caught a glimpse of leaderboard on 17 and saw I was right around the lead. It was just nice to be able to finish that well, too, knowing I was around the lead in a major.

"Just going to continue to be confident in the fact that I can make birdies and make good pars out here and just try and keep rolling."

Schmelzel shares the lead with Amy Yang

SAMMAMISH, WA - JUNE 21: Amy Yang hits her shot on the eighth hole during the second round of the KPMG Women's PGA Championship at Sahalee Country Club on Friday, June 21, 2024 in Sammamish, Washington. (Photo by Darren Carroll/PGA of America)
Amy Yang - image credit Darren Carroll/PGA of America

In the afternoon wave and in the penultimate group teeing off the first, it was Amy Yang who made her move to the top.

Starting the day one shot ahead of Schmelzel and in a large group of players tied for fourth at two-under-par, she looked to separate herself from the field and that's exactly what she did. Shooting the only bogey-free round of the day, which included two birdies on the front nine and two on the back.

After her round, the 2023 CME Group Tour Championship winner explained that she has been battling with her sore back this week:

"You know, obviously my back had been bothering me last few days, but I was still striking the ball really well like yesterday, and so I thought it would be fine. I woke up today and starting few holes was feeling a little pain on my lower back, but I fight through really well and that actually gave me more like focus out there. Make sure I put even more like focus on each shot. Yeah, it worked out well."

Major Champions in contention

Major Champions Lexi Thompson, Hinako Shibuno and Jin Young Ko sit two shots back at four-under-par, after shooting 72, 70 and 68 respectively. Thompson referenced that "it's all about patience" as she looks ahead to the weekend:

"Mindset going into the weekend, same as the last two days. Get some rest this afternoon. It was a quick turnaround so not too much sleep last night. Definitely get some rest and come out, have a good warm-up, and really embrace the crowd. It's been beautiful weather. Course is in great shape. Just blessed to be out there."

Seventeen players remain under par, including British and Irish hopes - Charley Hull (-1) and Leona Maguire (-3).

Nelly Korda misses third cut in a row

Nelly Korda - image credit Darren Carroll/PGA of America

The biggest shock of the day came from World Number one Nelly Korda. After thinking that the ship may have been righted a little after two missed cuts in a row, a 69 from Korda on Thursday looked to set her up well for the week, "any single time I can shoot under par in a major I think that's a positive. Hopefully that will just give me good momentum going into the next few days."

But what happened on Friday felt nothing short of a catastrophe for the American. It was a steady slide down the leaderboard as bogey after bogey were recorded on her scorecard. Five bogies in the first six holes set Korda in motion to equal her worst ever round on the LPGA. After 14 holes she was eight-over-par for the day. To compound her misery, a double bogey followed on the par 4 15th. A birdie on 18 was really no consolation. It was difficult to watch with Korda in tears on what must feel like a really low point after so many highs in recent months.

"It’s just golf recently for me. No words for how I’m playing right now. I’m just going to go home and try to reset. I just feel like that's been my last three events, just nothing is really…. A lot went my way at the beginning part of the year, and just giving it back."

Korda missed the cut by one shot, the first time she has missed three cuts in a row in her career, with it being set at five-over-par, with 73 players going into the weekend.

Other notable absentees included Megan Khang (+13) and Alison Lee (+15) who will both most likely miss their chance to qualify for the Paris Olympics. Former champions of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship, Anna Nordqvist (+6), Sei-Young Kim (+7), Danielle Kang (+8), Yani Tseng (+10) and
Cristie Kerr (+10) also missed the cut.

View the full 70th KPMG Women's PGA Championship leaderboard here. Live coverage of the third round starts at 7:30pm BST on Sky Sports Golf.

Inspired by the third women's Major of the season? Why not come and watch the best players in the world at the AIG Women's Open this summer at St Andrews. Ticket prices start from £20.