A pair of firsts sit at the top of the leaderboard after a tricky second round at The Chevron Championship, where big names didn't make the cut

LPGA Tour rookie Jin Hee Im is making her first ever start in a Major championship this week, whilst Thai star Atthaya Thitikul is making her first start of the season as she returns after recovering from a thumb injury and hasn't played on the LPGA since the 2023 season ending CME Group Tour Championship in November.

Both players share the 36 hole lead at eight-under-par after both shooting 69-67 in their first two rounds. Im may be a rookie, after gaining status from LPGA Q-Series, and a new name to many golf fans but the 25-year-old Korean player has plenty experience of winning. Im is a six-time winner on the KLPGA Tour, with four of those wins coming last year.

How does she feel leading in her first Major?

"It's like first time leading the tournament in LPGA, so like I don't have any pressure. I enjoyed rest of round. Pretty hard to play bogey-free every course, but especially on this course. Bogey-free today feels like four rounds bogey-free."

Watch second round highlights from The Chevron Championship

As for 21-year-old Thitikul, she also feels little pressure coming into the week:

"I think it's kind of free. Just a little bit of excitement of starting like my first week of the season here in a Major. But like other than that, not really pressure at all."

The two-time LPGA winner may be a little out of tournament practice and without a win last year, but with 13 top-10 finishes in 21 starts and the lowest scoring average in 2023, she'll be one to watch this weekend.

"Starting my season with Major week, it's not that easy. So I think from now on it's just a bonus for me. Just go out there, staying positive, and then also being out there smiling and then just do my best."

Nelly Korda one shot back

Just one shot back is this week's favourite Nelly Korda, who is in search of her fifth LPGA title in a row and her second Major. The American shot a second round 69 that started with a double bogey. Throughout the round she displayed why she is the number one player in the world.

Being in contention heading into the weekend is just what the tournament and sponsors would have wanted. When asked what new viewers may see when they watch her play?

"I don't know. (Laughing.) I mean, that I just never give up. No matter, what no matter how much adversity is thrown your way, they know that I never give up and I give it my all."

Giving it her all and securing a win this week will see her tie Annika Sorenstam’s and Nancy Lopez’s record for most wins in consecutive starts on the LPGA Tour.  

Last season’s Rolex Rookie of the Year, Hae Ran Ryu, sits in solo fourth at six-under-par. First-round leader Lauren Coughlin couldn’t find her opening-round rhythm but remains in the top-5 after a shooting a one-over-par 73 on Friday. She shares the tied fifth spot with four other players including Sweden’s Maja Stark, Japan’s Minami Katsu, Korea’s Shinsil Bang, and Weiwei Zhang of the Republic of China.

Amateur Lottie Woad tied for 10th

One of the stories of the day belongs to sponsor exemption and the 2024 Augusta National Women’s Open champion Lottie Woad sits in a tie for 10th with seven other players at four-under-par. The English player had a round of 69 which featured five birdies and two bogeys. On grading her performance so far, the 20-year-old said:

"I'm feeling good. I'm playing well. I mean, I would probably grade it pretty highly. I was trying to make sure I made the weekend was kind of my aim for this week. I didn't know what position exactly, but I'm in a good position now so I am just going to keep trying to move up.

Big names miss the cut

Seventy-three players made the cut at +2 following Friday’s round. Notable names to miss the cut included past champions Patty Tavatanakit (2021), Jin Young Ko (2019), Pernilla Lindberg (2018), Lexi Thompson (2014), Stacy Lewis (2011), Yani Tseng (2010). Plus In Gee Chun (+3), Alison Lee, Celine Boutier, Leona Maguire (+4), Hannah Green, Rose Zhang (+5), Ashleigh Buhai and Danielle Kang (+9).

So Yeon Ryu bows out

Last month, So Yeon Ryu (2017 Chevron Champion), announced her retirement from the LPGA Tour and that The Chevron Championship would be her last event. After failing to make the cut at +7, the highly regarded golfing superstar still left the week on a high and the Championship shared this moving video on their social media:

“I wanted to make sure this week is like celebrate week, not sad week. It's been very touching. Like a lot of people just came up to me and then congrats me and then give all the warm word to me. I just feel very blessed. You cannot really have this feeling often. Maybe this is my first and last. So I really tried my best to enjoy like all the thing. Even out there I tried to enjoyed having a thrill tee shot, tough chip shot, the nervousness when I had a birdie putt kind of stuff,” said Ryu. “I think I'm very satisfied with my week.”

We now go into moving day at The Chevron Championship. We've got a fun weekend ahead. View the full Chevron Championship leaderboard here.