Charley Hull lines up a putt on the fifth green during the second round of the KPMG Women's PGA Championship

Credit: Adam Hagy
/USA TODAY Sports

Charley Hull has been “suffering” after so many months on the road away from her family and says she cannot wait to return to Northamptonshire on Monday. But when Hull does, it is far from outlandish to suggest that the 25-year-old could have a major title in her possession.

At the halfway point of the Women’s PGA Championship in Atlanta, Hull is on five-under and contention for the breakthrough success that her staggering talent has long merited. She has finished in the top seven on two of the last three stagings of this event and is clearly suited to the searching test posed at the Highlands Course.

“I prefer it when it’s tough and when good shots get rewarded,” Hull said. “I’m not really into birdie-fests, which basically turn into putting competitions. I find them a bit boring, to be honest. I do like major golf.”

Not that there are no birdies to be made in Georgia. Hull proved as much in her first round when she posted six red numbers in her opening four-under 68 and then four more in her second round 71. The two most important came on the last two holes. After bogeying the 14th and 16th, she was in danger of being cast adrift of France’s Celine Boutier, who shot a 64 to move to eight-under.

“They gave me some momentum for the weekend,” she said. “The eight iron I hit to three feet on the 17th was a great shot and I holed a 20-footer on the last, which is always nice. I’m in a good position for the weekend.”

Charley Hull hits from a fairway bunker on the ninth hole during the second round of play in the KPMG Women's PGA Championship

Credit: John Bazemore
/AP

The smile was evidence and was so welcome to see after he recent struggles.  

“I’ve been suffering a little bit with being over here and away from my family for so long, but I know I’m going home in a few days so in a good head space at the minute, just out there having fun,” Hull said. “I’m such a home girl; I miss my mum and dad and I miss my nephews. So I just FaceTime them and keep positive on the course.”

There is more than a major to play for at the Highlands. This is the last qualifying event for the Olympics, with Team GB booked in for two places in Tokyo. Mel Reid, as world No 34, leads the way, but at three-over, her tournament has not gone entirely to plan. However, at world No 41, Hull is sitting pretty, particularly with Georgia Hall, the world No 53, struggling to a 76 in her first round.

It has been a tense run-in, but Hull is adamant the chase has not been a distraction. “I’ve not really been thinking about it,” she said. “I’m one of those people that I just stay in the moment. Yeah, just concentrating on now. No point in thinking about the Olympics yet. Just play your best golf now, and if you play well, you get in.”

When the afternoon wave went out, Boutier had a two-shot lead in the clubhouse over the Swede Madelene Sagstrom, who posted a 68.