Sat, Apr 16, 2016 - Page 19 News List

Minjee Lee shoots 66 for two-shot lead in Hawaii

‘STRIKING IT PRETTY GOOD’:Lee carded a total 10-under 134 to put her two strokes ahead of Katie Burnett, during a Lotte Championship with winds of up to 48kph


Minjee Lee of Australia plays a tee shot on the ninth hole during the second round of the LPGA Lotte Championship at Ko Olina Golf Club in Kapolei, Hawaii, on Thursday.

Photo: AFP

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.

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