Front run­ners Ariya, Stacy in neck and neck bat­tle

New Straits Times - - Sport -

PHOENIX: Thai­land’s Ariya Ju­tanu­garn and Amer­i­can Stacy Lewis shot iden­ti­cal scores for the sec­ond straight day to sit atop a crowded leader­board at the LPGA Tour’s Founders Cup with Michelle Wie lurk­ing close be­hind.

Ariya and Stacy fired five-un­der 67s on Fri­day fol­low­ing 64s in the open­ing round to reach 13un­der par head­ing into the week­end at the Desert Ridge course.

The duo lead Lee Jeong-Eun, Hur Mi-Jung, Michelle and Vicky Hurst by one stroke and have a group, in­clud­ing Park In-Bee, Jes­sica Korda and first round coleader Chun In-Gee within three shots of the lead. Ariya, Stacy and In-Gee were among five tied for the first round lead.

“It’s pretty hard be­cause I feel like ev­ery hole, ev­ery­body has a chance to make birdie,” said Ariya, the reign­ing Women’s British Open cham­pion.

“I’m not re­ally wor­ried about who is go­ing to be in the leader­board. I just re­ally fo­cus on like what is un­der my con­trol.”

Ariya be­gan her round on the back nine and it didn’t take long for the birdies to start fall­ing. She had four birdies in six holes be­gin­ning at the par-four No 13.

Stacy’s bo­gey-free round also has her sit­ting in a good po­si­tion head­ing into the week­end. She is seek­ing her first win since 2014.

“I played re­ally solid; to­day was an­other good day,” said Stacy. “Didn’t have the dis­tance con­trol with my wedges quite di­aled in the way I would’ve liked, but still made a bunch of birdies and shot a good round.

“It’s al­ways hard to fol­low up a round like yes­ter­day. So happy with the day again.”

Michelle was one stroke back of Ariya and Stacy as the Amer­i­can started her day on the front nine and had a hot put­ter. She posted six birdies be­fore drop­ping a shot with a bo­gey on the par four, 13th to card a five-un­der 67.

“The front nine went very well. Ev­ery time I had a birdie op­por­tu­nity I took ad­van­tage of it,” said Michelle.

The cut line of five un­der par was the low­est in LPGA his­tory.

Katie Bur­nett, who also was tied for the lead af­ter the first round, shot 70 and was among those three shots back at 134. AFP

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