US teenager Lexi Thompson and China’s Feng Shanshan made their move up the leaderboard on the second day of the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia while South Korean Lee Il-hee kept her lead yesterday.
Thompson, 18, shot an eight-under 63 at the par-71 Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club, for a two-day total of 12-under 130 in a round which included an eagle on the par-four 14th hole and saw her finish the day in second place.
Her 63 broke the tournament record by one, but it was then bettered by South Korean Amy Yang, who shot a sensational 62 for a two-day total of eight-under 134.
Feng, who won in China last week, is at 10-under 132 in third place after rounds of 67 and 65 while Lee is leading at 13-under 129.
Paula Creamer is joint fourth with Kim In-kyung on 133, while Yang shares sixth place with Mamiko Higa, a further stroke back.
Meanwhile, world No. 1 Park In-bee shot a one-under 70 and is now 12 strokes off the pace and her chances of finally defending a title are almost over.
Among a group of players tied for 39th with Park are Taiwan’s Candie Kung and Chien Pei-yun.
Fellow-Taiwanese Yani Tseng was tied for 48th, two strokes further back.
Norway’s Suzann Pettersen, who is second to Park in the race for the player of the year award, has moved up to a tie for seventh place. Park still holds a massive 86-point lead, but there are five more tournaments before the season ends.
Thompson, who moved up from seventh, had a hot putter which saw her sink birdies on the first, fifth, sixth, 12th, 13th, 15th and 16th besides the eagle on the 14th.
Playing under overcast skies and occasional drizzle, Thompson took to the greens like a duck to water.
“I remembered how I played the course last year. It’s playing similar, maybe a little softer, but I’m hitting it a little straighter this year,” she said.
Thompson, who was tied for 30th last year, said that taking a three-week break after the Evian Championship last month had helped her game.
It was evident on hole 14, where she hit a pitching wedge and it bounced once before going in for her eagle.
Yang, who is five strokes off the pace, was obviously delighted with her round which included 10 birdies against a lone bogey.
“I’ve shot 10-under before, but it was on the mini-tour. This is my best on the LPGA Tour and it feels great,” said Yang, who has yet to win a title on tour.
The Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia is the second of five tournaments in the Asian swing with events in South Korea, Taiwan and Japan to follow.
Additional reporting by staff writer