Katherine Kirk closes a putt on Rancho Mirage today.
Katherine Kirk is hot at the right time.
For the second consecutive day at the ANA Inspiration in California, the Australian briefly hit the front of the first major of the year.
But her early form was so impressive that even when she cooled down, Kirk was good enough to switch to Rancho Mirage halfway through.
On a day that otherwise had nothing to offer but the Australian fans, the heroics of Queenslander more than made up for it.
Starting with the first at one bottom, she made birds at the first and second holes, flew three directly from the seventh and then added a new one on the 11th to hit seven below and beyond the equally impressive In-Kyung Kim .
From that moment on the Mission Hills track, as it was the day before, the breeze stiffened in the afternoon and it became more difficult.
But even after a few late bogeys, Kirk had done enough to finish at five under and away from everything except Kim, who was late and came eight.
Of the other Aussies, Minjee Lee birdied early in her second round to even reach par, but couldn't get any further and endured three bogeys to leak back to a 48th share and three left.
Expectant mother Sarah Jane Smith was the only other Aussie who survived the cut, exactly on the + 5 figure after her own 75.
Hannah Green fought hard for her 75 to 11 ended alongside Sarah Kemp (79), while Karrie Webb (79) and Su Oh (80) each finished 13 at the time.
So, with 27 women on p or better on a course that plays harder than last year and holds back a miracle, it will fall to Kirk to fly the Aussie flag.
And the experienced four-time LPGA Tour winner seems to be up for the challenge and tries to finish a first big crown after four times in the top 10 earlier.
"It was textbook golf there, which is always fun," Kirk beamed.
"Made many good grades, good chances and a few putts.
"It would have been nice to keep it on the back (nine), but it was a lot harder, the wind picked up and there were a few hidden pins and you couldn't be so aggressive on the back.
"It was a shame with the bogey-bogey finish, but that is golf and I am still in a good position and I am going to look at the positives and go from there.
"I haven't looked at too many leadlerboards – it's a big one, it's a mentality of the head and grinds it as well as you can, because there are no easy holes and as soon as you check it out, mistakes start."
Kirk will be in the final group in the third round alongside Kim, the 30-year-old Korean who has been in the top 10 of the championship for ten years, including the victory in the Women & # 39; s British Open 2017.