Thu, 24 Sep 2020

Ko starts hot, maintains lead at Marathon Classic

Field Level Media
08 Aug 2020, 11:19 GMT+10

New Zealand's Lydia Ko followed up her first-round 64 with a 6-under 65 on Friday to take a one-stroke lead at the midpoint of the Marathon LPGA Classic in Sylvania, Ohio.

The 23-year-old former world No. 1 had more birdies than pars with nine, finishing her 36 holes at 13-under 129. But three bogeys undid some of her successes -- something England's Jodi Ewart Shadoff was able to avoid with her bogey-free 63 that puts her one shot back at 12 under.

American Danielle Kang, last weekend's winner and the first-round co-leader with Ko, is third at 11 under after her second-round 67, followed by Mexico's Maria Fassi (66 in Round 2) in fourth at 9 under. Americans Kristen Gillman (67) and Megan Khang (69) tied for fifth at 8 under.

Ko came out firing Friday, birdieing each of her first four holes at Highland Meadows Golf Club.

"I got off to a pretty hot streak," Ko said after her round, per the New Zealand Herald. "You almost don't realize what you're shooting, and that was the case yesterday as well."

A two-time winner of this event (2014 and 2016), Ko bogeyed No. 5, then got it back with a birdie at No. 6. She closed her front nine with two pars and a birdie on No. 8, but bogeyed Nos. 11 and 14 (with a birdie on No. 12 in between).

But the 15-time winner on the LPGA Tour, who is looking for her first title since 2018, closed with birdies on the par-5 17th and 18th holes to grab the lead.

"Today I swear coming down to the last (hole) I thought I was 4 under (for her round)," Ko said. "So I said, 'OK, I want to make one more birdie to finish under par for this nine, but I was apparently 5 (under), so I'll take the 6 under over the 5 any day."

After parring the first hole, Ewart Shadoff -- who was grouped with Ko -- birdied Nos. 2, 3 and 5. She closed the front nine with back-to-back birdies on Nos. 8 and 9, then never had the struggles Ko faced on the back nine. Instead, the 32-year-old who has yet to win on tour birdied Nos. 11, 13 and 17 to post the best round of the tournament thus far.

"I just got everything going," said Ewart Shadoff, who broke her career-best 36-hole score by three strokes. "The putts were dropping today and I'm striking the ball really well, hitting a lot of fairways, so I feel really confident in where I am at and where my game is."

--Field Level Media

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