It’s a race to the finish line at the Indy Women in Tech Championship presented by Guggenheim, with young guns Lexi Thompson and Lydia Ko leading the pack at 15-under 129 after the first two rounds at Brickyard Crossing Golf Course.
Thompson followed Thursday’s 9-under 63 with a bogey-free 6-under 66 on Friday afternoon. The round may not have been as flashy as the day before, but it was just what Thompson needed to keep her name at the top of the leader board.
“I'm never going to complain with a 6-under-par round, but I didn't really focus on anybody else like Lydia,” said Thompson, who is looking for a second victory of 2017, joining the Kingsmill Championship presented by JTBC. “I know she played great today, but I was just trying to go out with the same mindset I did yesterday and make sure I did my routine and commit to my golf shots.”
It’s only appropriate that Thompson, sponsored by long-time auto-racing supporter Red Bull, looks right at home at Brickyard Crossing, which has four holes nestled inside the world’s most famous racing circuit, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. While a Red Bull-sponsored driver has never visited the IMS Victory Lane, Thompson is in prime position to add her name to the Speedway’s illustrious list of champions.
“I always have the same mindset going in to every round, just going out there, just trying to do my best and just focus on my game,” said Thompson. “That's all I can control, and my attitude.”
Starting on the ninth hole, Ko drained nine birdies, including five straight on holes 2-6, and found 17 of 18 greens during her 8-under 64 on Friday morning. Her only missed green, coming at No. 8, led to her only bogey in two rounds at the Pete Dye-designed Brickyard Crossing Golf Course.
“I've just enjoyed kind of being in this position and being able to hit some good shots and give myself good looks at birdie,” said Ko, who returned both opening rounds in the 60s (65-64) for the first time since Kingsmill. “When you start doing that, it just builds your confidence.”
That boost is a welcome perk for Ko, who has not had a season to remember in 2017. The former World No. 1 has not won since the 2016 Marathon Classic presented by Owens Corning and O-I, and she hasn’t seen the top 10 since mid-June.
“I felt like there were a lot of positives and a lot of good things going on but I just couldn't put it all together,” said Ko. “This week, the last couple days I've been able to hit it pretty good and make some good putts and that's what I've kind of been lacking the last few months.”
But while Ko and Thompson hold the lead, it is by no means a breakaway. Veteran Candie Kung lies one stroke back at -14.
Like Ko, Kung came to Brickyard Crossing and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway searching for her season breakthrough. The 16-year LPGA veteran made seven birdies to only one bogey on Friday. Combine that with the confidence she pulls from a T9 finish at last week’s Cambia Portland Classic presented by JTBC, and Kung is in prime position for a Saturday push.
“I've been playing pretty good golf this year but I just haven't been able to put them all together,” said Kung, who has four LPGA victories, the last coming at the 2008 Hana Bank-KOLON Championship. “Being able to put them together last week, four rounds, and then the last two rounds, it feels pretty good.”
Ashleigh Buhai is in solo fourth at -11, while Cristie Kerr and Amy Olson are tied for fifth at -10. The cut came at 2-under 142, with 77 players reaching Saturday’s final round.