Mirim Lee of South Korea chips from the bunker onto the fifth green during the second round of the LPGA Founders Cup at Wildfire Golf Club on March 21, 2014 in Phoenix, Arizona. – AFP Photo
PHOENIX: South Korea’s Mirim Lee fired a five-under 67 on Friday to seize a two-stroke lead over New Zealand teen Lydia Ko after the second round of the LPGA Founders Cup.
In only her third LPGA event and first in the United States, rookie Lee stood on 13-under 131 for 36 holes with South Korean-born Kiwi Ko, the 16-year-old world number four, two back after a 66.
“It’s great to see two rookies out there,” Ko said, adding she was surprised to be so close to Lee.
“She’s obviously playing really good golf and there are a lot of birdies out there. I’ve never really met her before so should be good to get to know another rookie.”
Korean Yoo Sun-Young was third on 134 with American Jessica Korda and South Koreans Chella Choi, Ryu So-Yeon and Park In-Bee – the world number one – sharing fourth on 135.
“I probably missed two or three shots and I left a lot of putts out there,” said Park, who had two birdies on the back nine as well as an eagle at 15.
“I didn’t make anything. So it was very good to actually see the putts drop on the last five holes. It was a relief.”
Lee, 23, opened with a birdie but took her lone bogey at the eighth. She birdied the par-5 11th and par-4 13th then eagled the par-5 15th and closed with a birdie to stay in front as she was after day one.
“I played a little boring on the front nine so I went more aggressive on the back nine,” Lee said through a translator. “It worked well so now I plan on being aggressive the rest of the week.”
Lee, like Ko, seeks her first LPGA title as a professional. Lee has won three times on the South Korean women’s tour.
Ko, who back-to-back LPGA Canadian Women’s Open titles as an amateur, finished strong as well after a slow start.
Ko birdied the par-5 second but closed the front nine with her lone bogey. she responded with back-to-back birdies at 12 and 13 and again at 16 and 17 with an eagle at the 15th in between.
“I just gave myself more opportunities on the back nine,” Ko said. “I played much better this nine yesterday, so I kind of thought, ‘You can make some more birdies and get closer to the leader'.” – AFP