Lydia Ko seizes 2nd round lead at LPGA in S. Korea

October 16, 2015
Lydia Ko of New Zealand reacts after sinking a birdie putt on the first green during the second round of the KEB Hana Bank Championship golf tournament at Sky72 Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea, Friday, Oct. 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

Lydia Ko of New Zealand reacts after sinking a birdie putt on the first green during the second round of the KEB Hana Bank Championship golf tournament at Sky72 Golf Club in Incheon, South Korea, Friday, Oct. 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)

INCHEON, Oct. 16 (Yonhap) — World No. 2 Lydia Ko seized the second round lead at the LPGA Tour event in South Korea on Friday.

Ko, a South Korean-born New Zealander, shot a bogey-free round of seven-under 65 at the US$2 million LPGA KEB Hana Bank Championship in Incheon, west of Seoul. At 10-under, she holds a one-shot lead over Lexi Thompson.

The play at the par-72, 6,364-yard Ocean Course at Sky 72 Golf & Resort was delayed by an hour and 20 minutes due to early morning fog, but Ko didn’t miss a beat once the round began.

She opened her round with back-to-back birdies. Ko added birdies at the fifth and sixth, and again at the 11th and 12th, and finally at the 18th for the lowest score by anyone on Friday.

“Overall, I played really solidly and made a lot of good putts,” said Ko, who has won twice in her last three starts. “When I was in trouble, I got a little fortunate and got a good lie in the rough. I got myself in a good position. I will think about one shot at a time and just focus on my game. There’s going to be a lot of great golf from a lot of great players on the weekend.”

Ko began the week ranked second in the world with 12.52 points, behind only Park In-bee of South Korea with 12.78 points. Ko will overtake Park for the top spot with a win this week. Park has been No. 1 since June 15.

Ko is also trailing Park in the Player of the Year points race, 243 to 236, and a victory, worth 30 points, will put Ko at the top. Park is only $12,216 ahead of Ko on the money list with $2.34 million. The winner’s check this week is worth $300,000.

“I don’t think about the rankings or if one birdie is going to put me a couple shots in front of her,” Ko said. “I think she was doing the same. When we’re out there, we are not thinking about it. I think for the crowds and for the media, it makes it really exciting when everything is close. But there’s still a lot of golf to play.”

Korea LPGA Tour star Park Sung-hyun, who held the first round lead with a new course record of 10-under 62, had an up-and-down round of two-over 74, falling to a tie for third with fellow South Korean Cho Yoon-ji.

Park reached 12-under with birdies at the fourth and fifth, but bogeyed the next three holes, dropping into a tie for the lead with Ko and Charley Hull at nine-under.

Park reached 10-under with a long birdie at the 10th, but gave a shot back two holes later. After leaving her birdie attempt well short on the par-5 18th, Park walked away with her fourth bogey of the day.

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel any pressure after setting the record yesterday,” Park said. “But I expected a rough day like this would come at some point during the tournament. I will take it all in stride and get ready for tomorrow.”

Former world No. 1 Yani Tseng carded a 67 and is tied with Lee Mi-rim in fifth at seven-under.

Park In-bee shot an even-par 72 to remain at three-under, good for an eight-way tie for 25th. Defending champion Baek Kyu-jung shot a 73 to fall to three-over after two days, putting her in a tie for 63rd with five others.

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