Ko shoots 62 to take lead

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS -

NAPLES, FLA. >> Ly­dia Ko shot a tour­na­ment-record 10-un­der 62 on Fri­day to take a three-stroke lead in the CME Group Tour Cham­pi­onship, putting the top-ranked New Zealan­der in po­si­tion to win the player of the year award with a vic­tory Sun­day.

Ko birdied four of the first six holes and had seven birdies and a bo­gey on the back nine to get to 12-un­der 132 in the sea­son fi­nale. Ryann O’Toole (67) and So Yeon Ryu (68) were tied for sec­ond, and Sei Young Kim (68) and Beatriz Re­cari (68) fol­lowed at 8 un­der.

“Go­ing into to­day def­i­nitely my goal wasn’t the 62,” said Ko, the 2014 win­ner at Tiburon Golf Club. “The first three holes made great birdies. I was go­ing in with re­ally good mo­men­tum, and I was able to carry that for pretty much the rest of my round. I think I was putting good, so if I was within a dis­tance that I felt com­fort­able I felt like, ‘Hey, I could hole this.”’

Ko needs a vic­tory to top Ariya Ju­tanu­garn in the player of the year race, and also would take the sea­son points ti­tle and $1 mil­lion bonus with a win. The points in the CME Globe stand­ings were re­set for the fi­nale, so Ko, Ju­tanu­garn and Brooke Hen­der­son all con­trol their des­tinies.

“I think the big key mind­set for me is that I’ve been not re­ally think­ing about ev­ery­thing that could hap­pen,” Ko said. “For me to win player the year I know I need to win this cham­pi­onship. A lot of things come with that. So to me, it’s more im­por­tant to fin­ish off my sea­son strong. I think that way I don’t feel more pres­sure about ev­ery­thing that’s go­ing on.”

Ko is fighting Ju­tanu­garn for the money ti­tle and In Gee Chun for the Vare Trophy for the low­est scor­ing av­er­age. Ju­tanu­garn, the tour vic­tory leader with five, was tied for 19th at 4 un­der af­ter a 68.

“I started to make some putts,” Ju­tanu­garn said. “To­day was pretty good day for me.”

Chun (69) was tied for sixth at 7 un­der, and Hen­der­son (72) was tied for 38th at even par.

The 62 matched Ko’s low­est score of the sea­son, shot in the sec­ond round of her Wal­mart NW Arkansas vic­tory in June. She has four vic­to­ries this year.

“Go­ing into to­day, I just wanted to fo­cus on my game,” Ko said. “I knew I had a great pair­ing Eun Hee (Ji) and Mi Hyang (Lee). Mi Hyang said, ‘Hey, when­ever you play with us you seem to play well.’ Maybe it’s the good vibes I got from them. Ob­vi­ously, it’s a great round. It’s a bet­ter po­si­tion, even bet­ter than I could have imag­ined. Even on the week­end I just got to fo­cus and keep play­ing great.”

Ko is us­ing Gary Matthews as her cad­die for the sec­ond straight event. She fired Ja­son Hamil­ton — now with Ha Na Jang — and used Sar­gu­nan Sun­tharaj in Malaysia, then teamed with Matthews in Ja­pan.

She worked with in­struc­tor David Lead­bet­ter on the range late Thurs­day.

“It was just more about my iron play,” Ko said. “I hit my drives re­ally well yes­ter­day. My irons were kind of on and off. Not that many where I was look­ing for birdies. So, it was just very sim­ple. Just in the take­away where I wasn’t go­ing too out. It’s some­thing that you nor­mally do, but es­pe­cially when you’re hit­ting it good, it’s more about the ba­sics and the lit­tle things.”

O’Toole had six birdies and a bo­gey.

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