Feb 27th, 2021
Ko hold halfway lead at Gainbridge LPGA
New Zealander heads tight packed leaderboard at Lake Nona
Photography: Getty Images
The 23-year-old from New Zealand had four birdies in six holes from the 12th tee to take herself to double digits under par. Two further birdies were cancelled out by dropped shots as Ko finished the day with a second-round 69 to remain on ten-under and in a one shot lead.
“Yeah, I saw the pin positions last night, and I feel like the course was going to play a little longer, especially my front nine which is the back nine, because there was a lot of back pins. But overall I thought I played pretty solid,” said Ko.
Ko pointed out the crucial par save on the par-5 second hole, and joked about keeping the ball out of a friend’s backyard after landing it a little too close for comfort.
“I know the owners of that house, so I don't know how much they like me being right up at their fence. I was hoping they didn't have a fence at one point,” laughed Ko.
Ko leads after the second day for the eighth time in her career. In three of the previous seven occurrences, Ko has gone on to win, most recently at the 2016 Marathon LPGA Classic.
One shot back in second sits World ranked number four and Florida native Nelly Korda who posted a four-under 68 to finish on nine-under-par. Korda had three birdies and two bogeys on her front nine, but came home strongly with four birdies on her back nine.
“Once I started to get more looks at birdie I got a little more comfortable. As I said, I just made a little too many mistakes on my front nine,” said Korda. “And it was weird, I mean, I hit solid shots. They just went over the green. You kind of screw yourself a little.”
Fellow American Ryann O’Toole sits one back from Korda at eight-under after a second-straight round of 68. Close behind is major champion In Gee Chun in fourth at seven-under, who set a goal to record at least one bogey-free round this weekend.
“Yesterday I said I would be patient because after three weeks off. This week I try just enjoy my play, enjoy to see all my friend on the tour. That makes me happy. Then look forward to play on the course,” said Chun.
Chella Choi, Ashleigh Buhai and 2020/21 Tour rookie Patty Tavatanakit are in a tie for fifth at six-under. Eight players remain in a tie for eighth, including LPGA Tour winners Jessica Korda, Stacy Lewis and Lexi Thompson.
Defending champion Madelene Sagstrom got off to a terrible start with a triple bogey on the 14th hole. However, she showed her mental strength with two birdies and an eagle in her last three holes including holing her bunker shot at her final hole. The eagle catapulted the 28-year-old past the cutline at two-over-par to make the weekend.
Annika Sorenstam, after shooting a first-round 75, carded her first official under-par round in competition since the final round of the 2008 Lorena Ochoa Invitational with a one-under 71 to also make the cut on the number. In addition to Sagstrom and Sorenstam, 72 others made the cut at plus two.