United States Solheim Cup Team member Christina Kim shot a three under par 69 at Il Picciolo Golf Club this morning and took the clubhouse lead midway through the second round of the Sicilian Ladies Italian Open.

The US LPGA Tour regular bogeyed the fourth but eagled the ninth and came home with birdies at the 11th and the 18th to finish on five under par.

She said: “I played very smart today. It was very difficult because the golf course is very challenging and there is a lot of wind and a lot of rumbling from Etna, the volcano. It was a difficult day because it was chilly and very windy as well. I just tried to play smart and my caddie did a wonderful job helping me decide clubs off the tee, clubs into the greens: it was a fantastic day today and I had wonderful company.”

On her eagle three, she added: “I had a perfect shot. I hit my drive a little bit right but it rolled all the way down to the flat area. From about 135 metres I hit seven-iron to maybe 10 feet or something and made the putt. It rolled in at the very last second. I didn’t think it was going to make it but thankfully it went in.”

Kim is a two-time winner on the LPGA Tour and her two career victories came at the 2004 Longs Drugs Challenge and at The Mitchell Company LPGA Tournament of Champions in 2005. The 27-year-old has racked up 44 top-10 finishes since her rookie season in 2003 and she is looking for her first win on the Ladies European Tour.

“I love being in a position where I can chase the leaders. I also like being in the position where I’m up near the top. It’s been a while since I’ve had a good finish here on the LET and it’s a testament to how great the competition is out here on this tour. It’s just been a really exciting week. It’s gorgeous. It’s my first time in Sicily and drinking OJ all day, enjoying the food. I’ve never seen tomatoes so red. It sounds very stereotypical but really, it has been gorgeous out and the people have been so kind so I’m really happy to be here and really looking forward to tomorrow.”

First round leader Trish Johnson led on 66 overnight and played the first three holes in level par before dropping a shot at the fourth and taking a double bogey at the sixth to slip back to three under.

Julie Greciet was four under through 15 holes and also at four under in total alongside Karen Lunn after six.  

Conditions are cooler and changeable today after rain overnight but a generally bright blue sky is making way for excellent views of a snow-capped Etna.