Ju­tanu­garn closes in on first ma­jor

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Graham Dun­bar

EVIAN-LES-BAINS, FRANCE » Moriya Ju­tanu­garn of Thai­land shot 3-un­der 68 to lead the Evian Cham­pi­onship sec­ond round on Satur­day, and could join her younger sis­ter Ariya in golf’s record book.

Seek­ing to be the first sis­ters to win a ma­jor ti­tle, Moriya’s 9-un­der to­tal left her one shot ahead of Ayako Ue­hara of Ja­pan, who had seven birdies in her round of 66.

The lead­ing group on Sun­day is com­pleted by Kather­ine Kirk of Aus­tralia, who carded a 69 to trail Moriya by two strokes. All three play­ing part­ners will seek their first ma­jor.

Vic­tory for Moriya — who has a ca­reer-best fin­ish of 10th at a ma­jor — would make the Ju­tanu­garns the first sis­ters to win a ma­jor since the U.S. LPGA Tour was founded 67 years ago.

Ariya, who was topranked this sea­son, won the 2016 Women’s Bri­tish Open.

“I prob­a­bly don’t feel that bad play­ing on the golf course rather than watch­ing my sis­ter play,” said Moriya, who re­called feel­ing “ner­vous, ex­cited” last year when fin­ish­ing her round to watch Ariya win at Woburn, Eng­land.

Two pairs of brothers have won ma­jor ti­tles, though not for more than 50 years.

Lionel and Jay He­bert of the United States each won a U.S. PGA Cham­pi­onship, in 1957 and 1960, re­spec­tively. The Park brothers of Scot­land, Mungo and Wil­lie, won back-to-back Bri­tish Opens in 1874 and ‘75. That was Wil­lie Park’s fourth Open ti­tle.

The fifth women’s ma­jor of the sea­son is a 54hole event af­ter weather­af­fected play on Thurs­day was wiped from the record.

Moriya had chances to match her 65 from Fri­day’s first round though let birdie chances slip af­ter con­sis­tently ac­cu­rate ap­proach shots.

“I played pretty solid to­day,” Moriya said, “couldn’t make a lit­tle more putts.”

Ue­hara is ranked only No. 163 yet her 14 birdies so far are two more than any­one else on the rain-soft­ened Evian Re­sort course look­ing across Lake Geneva to Switzer­land.

A strong trio of re­cent ma­jor win­ners are on 6 un­der, three shots back, and will play to­gether on Sun­day.

First-round leader Sung Hyun Park, the U.S. Women’s Open cham­pion, fol­lowed her 63 with a 73. Former No. 1 Ly­dia Ko of New Zealand, the 2015 Evian win­ner, carded a sec­ond 68. Women’s Bri­tish Open win­ner In-Kyung Kim bo­geyed the par-4 18th in her round of 69.

Park has al­ready played two days in a stel­lar group of the world’s three high­est-ranked play­ers with No. 1 So Yeon Ryu, her fel­low South Korean, and No. 2 Lexi Thomp­son of the U.S.

Thomp­son (72) is level par and Ryu shot a 69 to make the cut at 2 over. Ryu ac­knowl­edged let­ting it af­fect her that she had been lead­ing on Thurs­day when play was sus­pended and then scrapped.

“It was re­ally hard to stop (think­ing) about it,” the top-ranked Ryu said. “For my sit­u­a­tion it was un­fair. I just need to just ac­cept it.”

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