The second day of play at the JTBC Founders Cup belonged to a pair of LPGA Tour rookies. KLPGA Tour alum Mirim Lee followed up her opening-round 64 with a 5-under 67 to take the outright second-round lead at 13-under-par. But trailing not far behind Lee is a rookie who is already well-known to LPGA Tour fans.
Sixteen-year-old Lydia Ko, who captured back-to-back wins as an amateur on the LPGA Tour at the CN Canadian Women’s Open, fired a 6-under 66 during Friday’s second round at Wildfire Golf Club to move to 11-under-par and sit two shots back of Lee.
Ko didn’t find her rhythm until late in her round but finished with a flourish, going 6-under over her final seven holes which included an eagle on the 15th.
“I was really surprised,” Ko said of finding herself just two shots off the lead. “I just gave myself more opportunities on the back nine. I played much better this nine yesterday, so I kind of thought, you know, you can make some more birdies and get closer to the leader.”
Lee got off to a pretty slow start herself, as she made the turn at even par. The key stretch of holes for the 23-year-old South Korean was 13-14-15 where she went birdie, par, eagle to move to 12-under-par. Her par save on the 14th seemed to be the most important part of that stretch as she sank a 20-footer to keep her momentum going.
“I played a little boring on the front 9 so I went more aggressive on the back 9,” Lee said through a translator. “It worked well so now I plan on being aggressive the rest of the week.”
Michelle Wie was the story early in the day, as she held the lead for a brief time in the morning after four straight birdies moved her to 10-under-par. Wie, who started on the back-nine, hit a stumbling block when she bogeyed the par-5 fifth and another bogey on the 9th (her finishing hole) dropped her into a tie for eighth at 8-under.
Wie isn’t the only big name in contention heading into the weekend. Rolex Rankings No. 1 Inbee Park sits four shots behind Lee in a tie for fourth with Jessica Korda, Chella Choi and So Yeon Ryu.
But with Lee and Ko headlining the pack, it will be two rookies making up the final group of Saturday’s third round and Ko is looking forward to the pairing.
“I’ve never really met her before, so should be good tomorrow to meet her and get to know another rookie,” Ko said.
Topics: LPGA Founders Cup