20 Apr 2024 | Professional golf |

Kyriacou ready for major spotlight at The Chevron

by Tony Webeck

Stephanie Kyriacou Round 3 Chevron Championship
Stephanie Kyriacou is the best of the Aussies at the halfway mark of The Chevron Championship. Photo: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Sydney’s Stephanie Kyriacou has vowed to embrace the major championship spotlight as she leads the Aussie contingent into the weekend of The Chevron Championship in Texas.

The LPGA Tour’s first major of the year saw five of the nine Aussies in the field advance to the final two rounds, major champions Minjee Lee and Hannah Green among the high-profile casualties.

Thailand’s Atthaya Thitikul and Korea's Jin Hee Im both shot rounds of 5-under 67 to lead the way at 8-under at the halfway point at the Club at Carlton Woods. American Nelly Korda (69) is just one stroke back in her quest to match the LPGA’s all-time consecutive win streak of five.

Kyriacou played her way into the later groups for Round 3 with a 3-under par round of 69 in Round 2 to sit in a tie for 17th at 3-under and five shots off the lead, determined to make an impression over the final two rounds.

The 23-year-old’s two top-10 finishes in majors have both come at the Women’s British Open but feels ready to make a charge in her second start at The Chevron.

“In the past I’ve kind of got scared of being in the spotlight,” Kyriacou told LPGA Media.

“This weekend I’m going to embrace it a bit more and try to do what I did the last couple of days.”

Starting her round from the 10th tee, Kyriacou dropped a shot at the par-3 12th but got back to even par with a birdie at the par-4 14th.

She turned in 1-under courtesy of a birdie at the par-5 18th but gave that straight back with a bogey at the first.

A birdie at the par-3 third would spark a strong run home, picking up shots at five and eight to be well placed heading into Round 3.

“I’ve been playing solid the last couple of days and I just made less mistakes today, holed a few more putts,” Kyriacou said.

“I took the opportunities today when I had them and minimised my mistakes.

“This course is quite long so you just have to stay patient and with the pins today, there weren’t that many gettable pins.

“Just stay patient and if you don’t make birdies, that’s OK out here.”

Gabi Ruffels (73) also kept alive her hopes of a maiden major championship thanks to two birdies late in her round.

On the back of a 3-under 69 on her 24th birthday on Thursday, Ruffels faltered with early bogeys at three, five and 10 to drop back to even par for the championship.

A three-time winner on the Epson Tour in 2023, Ruffels responded with birdies at the remaining par 5s at 13 and 18 to get back to a tie for 21st at 2-under and within touch of the leaders.

“I was happy to get two birdies in there and feel like I’m in contention,” Ruffels said after her morning round.

“I was saying to my caddie, it felt like an ‘almost’ day. I thought it was going to come, just had to stay patient.

“I didn’t start off great but the pins were a little bit tougher today.

“Got it to 2-over early but was happy to get two birdies the last eight holes.”

Like Ruffels, Sarah Kemp bounced back after a difficult start to post 1-over 73 and a tie for 30th at 1-under, Queenslanders Karis Davidson (74) and Robyn Choi (73) making the cut on the number at 2-over.

Photo: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Chevron Championship Round 2 T1 Atthaya Thitikul 69-67—136 T1 Jin Hee Im 69-67—136 T17 Stephanie Kyriacou 72-69—141 T21 Gabriela Ruffels 69-73—142 T30 Sarah Kemp 70-73—143 T60 Karis Davidson 72-74—146 T60 Robyn Choi 73-73—146 MC Grace Kim 76-72—148 MC Hannah Green 77-72—149 MC Minjee Lee 74-77—151 MC Hira Naveed 78-77—155

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