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Seon Woo Bae took the “new normal” path into contention for an international player amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Bae went from quarantine to the top of the leaderboard in the Korean LPGA Tour’s restart this week.
Bae, a South Korean who plays Japan’s LPGA Tour, ended a 14-day quarantine period just last Friday, after traveling from Japan back to her homeland. She said she didn’t practice during that quarantine period, giving her just five days to get ready for this week’s KLPGA Championship.
Still, with a 7-under-par 65 Friday, Bae took sole possession of the lead as the first global tour to restart moved to its halfway point. She moved to 12 under overall, four shots ahead of Char Young Kim (69) and Da Been Heo (66) at Lakewood Country Club in Yangju.
Sung Hyun Park, the highest ranked player in the field at No. 3 in the Rolex Women’s World Rankings, missed the cut after following up her Thursday 73 with a Friday 77.
Park didn’t seem overly disappointed when speaking to media afterward.
“I played in this tournament to see where my game was, in terms of my swing and short game,” Park said in a story published by the Yonhap News Agency. “I was able to test myself in a competitive setting. I identified my issues and I know in which direction I should move going forward.”
Park is scheduled to play a high-profile match against fellow countrywoman and Rolex world No. 1 Jin Young Ko on May 24 in South Korea, a charity fundraiser to help fight COVID-19. Ko still has yet to make her first tournament start of 2020.
World No. 6 Sei Young Kim shot 68 Friday to move into a tie for 28th, 10 shots off the lead.
Reigning U.S. Women’s Open champion Jeongeun Lee6 shot 70 and is 11 shots back.
Players are competing under coronavirus protection protocols, with thermal scanners used to take players’ temperatures as they enter the course. Individual players aren’t undergoing COVID-19 testing unless symptoms require doing so. That’s because South Korea is in such a different stage than the United States in its response to the pandemic, with expansive tracing technology in place. The country’s COVID-19 monitoring system includes cell phone tracking apps that have helped, in effect, to put the virus under surveillance, allowing health officials to track new infections and potential outbreaks.
Players are required to wear masks before and after their rounds with the option of wearing them during their rounds. Caddies are required to wear masks on and off the course. There are social distancing regimens for the event, with player dining set up with one person per table, with all the tables facing the same direction.