Minjee Lee made five birdies in a six-hole stretch and finished with a six-under 66 on Thursday to take the second-round lead in the LPGA Tour’s Lotte Championship.
Playing in calmer afternoon conditions at wind-swept Ko Olina, the 19-year-old Australian birdied the final two holes on the front nine and added three in a row on Nos. 11 to 13. She parred the final five holes to finish at 10-under 134, two strokes ahead of American Katie Burnett.
“I holed a couple of nice putts and just got my momentum going on the front nine,” Lee said. “I birdied 8 and 9, so I think the momentum carried on through the back nine.”
She hit every green in regulation in her bogey-free round.
“I’ve been striking it pretty good yesterday and today as well,” said Lee, the Kingsmill Championship winner last year for her first LPGA Tour title.
Taiwan’s Min Lee shot an even-par 144, while her compatriot Hsu Wei-ling missed the cut.
With constant wind gusting to 48kph on Wednesday, there were only seven rounds in the 60s and the average score was 74.6. It calmed on Thursday and eight players shot 67 or better.
The 26-year-old Burnett matched Lee with a 66. Also playing in the afternoon, she birdied four of the first six holes and made two more on the consecutive par-five 13th and 14th holes.
“I putted really well and we’ve been really decisive on like targets and I’ve hit a ton of knock-downs,” Burnett said. “Maybe hit a handful of actually full shots. Pretty much everything has been a knock-down just to keep the ball a little straighter in the wind.”
Top-ranked Lydia Ko, going for her third straight victory, was one-under after a morning 72.
Jang Su-yeon was seven-under after a 66 in the morning when gusts were as high as 40kph. The 21-year-old South Korean player, in the field on a sponsor exemption, is coming off a victory last week in a Korean LPGA event also sponsored by Lotte.
“I felt confident after winning the tournament last week,” said Jang, making her second LPGA Tour start and first in the US. “So, that helped me a lot.”
Thailand’s Moriya Jutanugarn and defending champion Kim Sei-young were six-under. Jutanugarn, tied for the first-round lead with Lee, had a 71. Kim had her second straight 69. The fifth-ranked South Korean player won last month in Phoenix for her fourth LPGA Tour title in two seasons.
Brooke Henderson was five-under after a 70 in the afternoon.
The 18-year-old Canadian has finished in the top 10 in six straight events.
“It was a lot calmer today, especially on my back nine, which was kind of nice, really,” Henderson said. “Walking down, I guess, No. 15 felt like there wasn’t wind at all, which was kind of crazy compared to the last 27 holes.”
Megan Khang made a big move up the leaderboard, following her opening 76 with a 64 — the best round of the week — to reach four-under. The 18-year-old American birdied six of the last seven holes after some encouragement from her father-teacher-caddie Lee.
“Back-to-back bogeys on 9 and 10, and my dad was like: ‘C’mon, Megan. We got to turn it around here.’ ‘OK, OK, OK. Like, I know dad. I know.’” Khang said. “So went on a pretty hot run, and thankfully had a good finish. I’m excited for the weekend, or Friday, Saturday.”
Third-ranked Lexi Thompson and Lizette Salas also rallied, each following a 75 with a 66 to get to three-under.
“Yesterday was just a struggle on the greens,” Thompson said. “I don’t really know what was going on.”
Salas shot a tournament-record 62 three years ago before losing a playoff to Suzann Pettersen.
“I just erased the round from yesterday,” Salas said. “We knew the problem was I wasn’t getting close, so I really wanted to be aggressive whenever I had a short iron.”
US Women’s Open champion Chun In-gee was also three-under, shooting a 67 after opening with a 74.
Second-ranked Inbee Park was one-over after a 71.
Michelle Wie missed the cut in her home event, following her opening 80 with a 73. She won the 2014 tournament.
“Disappointing for sure,” Wie said. “I wanted to play well this week. Just coming out here and not having a good performance, just definitely is disappointing. Take the weekend to practice and get ready for the next event.”
Two other players from Punahou School played this week, but only former UCLA All-American Stephanie Kono made the cut — shooting a 71 to reach one-under. Amateur Allisen Corpuz, a high school senior who qualified, was five-over after a 72.
Additional reporting by staff writer
‘GREAT EVENING‘: In the women’s singles in Rome, Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova advanced, while Rafael Nadal swept into the quarters in the men’s singles Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Friday had to dig deep to advance to the semi-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. The top seeds, who did not drop a game in their opening match on the clay courts at the Foro Italico, battled to a 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 victory over sixth seeds Veronika Kudermetova and Katerina Siniakova in 1 hour, 39 minutes. The reigning Wimbledon champions saved nine of 11 break points and converted three of eight, winning 56 percent of points on their second serve and sending down two aces
ANOTHER SCANDAL: Searches focused on several riders, including Dayer Quintana, a source said, while the two being held were reportedly a doctor and physiotherapist French police on Monday detained two people as part of an investigation into suspected doping in the Arkea-Samsic team at this year’s Tour de France, prosecutors announced. The probe is the first significant one in several years for the repeatedly scandal-hit tour, which on Sunday wrapped up in Paris with a victory for 21-year-old Tadej Pogacar, who became the youngest winner in more than a century. Prosecutor Dominique Laurens in Marseille said in a statement that an investigation was being carried out into a “small part” of France-based Arkea-Samsic, without specifying who had been placed in custody. Laurens added that the two
’SO CONSISTENT’: The victory gave the world No. 1 and world No. 2 a 21-1 win-loss record and their fourth title of the season after successes in Brisbane, Dubai and Doha Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Sunday cruised to their fourth women’s doubles title of the season at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome in their first tournament back since the suspension of the WTA Tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The top seeds took just 63 minutes to complete a comprehensive 6-2, 6-2 victory over unseeded German-Romanian duo Anna-Lena Friedsam and Raluca Olaru at the Foro Italico. It was the Taiwanese-Czech pairing’s first outing since they won the Qatar Open in February. “After five months, you don’t know what to expect,” Strycova told the WTA Web site.
‘GREAT COMPETITOR’: Former French Open champion Garbine Muguruza was tested by American teenager Coco Gauff, before the Spaniard advanced in three sets Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Thursday cruised into the quarter-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia by handing their Japanese opponents a rare “double bagel,” a feat matched by US Open losing finalist Victoria Azarenka in the women’s singles. Top seeds Hsieh and Strycova took just 49 minutes to see off the challenge of Japanese duo Nao Hibino and Makoto Ninomiya 6-0, 6-0 on the clay courts at the Foro Italico in Rome. The Taiwanese-Czech duo saved both break points they faced and converted six of 14, winning 62 percent of their first