Na Rin An had never been to Mobile, Alabama, before this week. In fact, this is just her second time competing in the U.S.
She’s playing like she’s played here for years.
The 25-year-old South Korean, who tied for 63rd at the 2020 U.S. Women’s Open in Houston, fired 5-under 67 on Magnolia Grove’s Crossings Course in Friday’s second round of LPGA Q-Series to grab a share of the 36-hole lead in the 108-hole qualifying event.
“My confidence level is pretty high,” said An, who sits at 9 under along with Sweden’s Linnea Johansson.
An, ranked 67th in the Rolex Rankings, has played on the KLPGA since turning pro in 2017, amassing two wins and eight other top-3 finishes. She also tied for third at the LPGA’s BMW Ladies Championship last season in her native South Korea.
Her goal, though, is to experience many different cultures, which would certainly be helped by obtaining an LPGA card.
“It’s a tour that I’ve always wanted to challenge myself on playing,” An said of the LPGA. “It’s why I’m here.”
An is among 110 players teeing it up at Q-Series this month. A cut to the low 70 players and ties will be made after Sunday’s fourth round, and the players who advance will compete in 72 more holes beginning next Thursday at Highland Oaks Golf Club in Dothan, Alabama.
Johansson, a 28-year-old Oklahoma State product, also shot 67 Friday on the Crossings, though she bogeyed her final hole to surrender the solo lead. She was a rookie the last two seasons on the LPGA, but she got into just eight events last season and finished No. 170 in CME points.
“It’s been a rough year,” Johansson said. “It’s been a constant grind, and I just think you just got to have to stay patient. It’s like you’re getting out there, the girls are good, which they should be because it’s the best players in the world. So, I think just stay patient, take every tournament you can to perform your best, stick to your game plan, and hopefully, things will click eventually.
“It’ll take time, but you just got to like give it that time.”
Denmark’s Emily Kristine Pedersen, a member of this year’s European Solheim Cup team, is tied for third with South Korea’s Hye-Jin Choi at 8 under. Another shot back is a large group that includes France’s Pauline Roussin-Bouchard, who played two seasons at South Carolina and was the world’s top-ranked amateur earlier this year before turning pro.
Kaitlyn Papp (-6), Atthaya Thitikul (-5), Anne van Dam (-4), Frida Kinhult (-2), Haley Moore (-2), Mariah Stackhouse (-1), Andrea Lee (E) and Linn Grant (+1) are among those inside the projected cut line through two rounds. Amateurs Vivian Hou (-2), Beatrice Wallin (-1), Gina Kim (-1), Polly Mack (-1), Yusang Hou (E) and Brooke Matthews (+1) are also inside the number.
Hinako Shibuno (+2), amateur Karen Fredgaard (+3), Sierra Brooks (+6) and Virginia Elena Carta (+9) are among those below the projected cut line.
But as An contended, there’s still a lot of golf to play.
“It’s only been two days,” An said, “so I think it’s a little early to say that I’m safe.”