South Korea's In Gee Chun has a fourth major title – and second of the season – in her sights after claiming the halfway lead in the €7m AIG Women’s Open.

Chun, who won the Women's PGA Championship at Congressional in June despite consecutive weekend rounds of 75, carded six birdies and a solitary bogey in a second round of 66 at Muirfield.

That gave the 27-year-old a halfway total of eight under par and a one-shot lead over South Africa’s Ashleigh Buhai and Sweden’s Madelene Sagstrom, with seven-time major winner Inbee Park a shot further back.

Leona Maguire had earlier played her way into contention, posting an impressive second-round 69 to move up the leaderboard.

The Cavan native shot two under at the renowned Scottish links and now sits six shots behind Chun in a share of 17th.

It wasn’t all plain sailing, however, for the former amateur world number one as Maguire found herself one over par on the fourth hole having started the second round on level par following Thursday’s 71.

Maguire bounced right back with an eagle on the fifth hole to get under par and while two further bogeys followed on 11 and 13, the Slieve Russell golfer ended in style, playing the last five holes in three under par.


"You can't get too frustrated," said Maguire to Sky Sports after her round, commenting on her plan to remain patient at the testing links track. "I got plugged in the bunker at 11, but I hung in there for the back nine and you have to take your chances when you get them.

"I love links golf, you have to be creative. There's no perfect shot, you can hit three clubs the same distance, you have to think a little bit more and it’s something that I have always enjoyed."

"Three under in the last five is really good momentum heading into the weekend. I’m right where I feel like I should be and I’m really looking forward to the weekend."

The Olympian will be out among the late starters on Saturday, however, her Rio and Tokyo team-mate Stephanie Meadow will miss out on the weekend action having played the two rounds in six over par.

Starting the day on five-over-par following a disappointing first round 76, Meadow made a front-nine charge to get to three over at the turn, however, the round fell apart on the 13th and 14th holes as the Jordanstown native dropped three shots to leave her with an uphill battle on the way home.

Birdie on 17 offered Meadow a glimmer or hope, however, while birdie was the minimum required at 18 she made bogey to move further away from the cut line.

In Gee Chun (R) and her caddie Dean Herden

Sunday's winner will claim £903,000 from the record prize fund, but leader Chun revealed she is also motivated by a somewhat smaller sum of money on offer.

"Before the start of the tournament my caddie Dean and I talked about the course and had a little bet," Chun explained.

"If I have a bogey-free round he’s going to buy me dinner and pay me 100 dollars each day, so before each round it’s like setting another goal.

"I think that mindset helped a lot on the course; I had two bogeys over the last two days but I want to keep trying for a bogey-free round."

Buhai looked on course to claim the halfway lead when she made an eagle and four birdies to race to the turn in 30, but after picking up another shot on the 11th the 33-year-old could not make any further gains and dropped her only shot of the day on the last.

That meant Buhai matched the 65 posted earlier in the day by last year’s joint runner-up Sagstrom, while overnight leader Hinako Shibuno followed her opening 65 with a 73 to fall four shots off the pace on four under.

Scotland’s Louise Duncan also carded a 73 to slip back to two under alongside Maguire.

Duncan only turned professional a fortnight ago and after missing the cut in the Scottish Open is now guaranteed her first pay cheque, which could be a welcome boost to the 22-year-old’s wedding plans.

"If it’s a big, big pay cheque, we can just go abroad and get it over with… in the nicest way possible before that comes across bad," Duncan said with a laugh.

Laura Davies suffered an unhappy 42nd appearance in the event with an 81 which included a 10 on the 18th, although the 58-year-old later joked that it could have been worse after being struck by her own ball attempting to escape a bunker on the last.

That used to lead to a penalty until the rule was changed in 2019.