Denmark’s Nanna Koerstz Madsen fired a five-under-par 67 to seize a two-stroke lead after Friday’s second round of the JTBC Classic.
Madsen became the first Danish player to capture an LPGA crown when she eagled the second playoff hole to beat China’s Xiyu Lin for the Honda LPGA Thailand title on 13 March.
The 27-year-old from Copenhagen birdied four of the first five holes and three of the first four on the back nine to offset bogeys at the par-five 8th and 17th holes at Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad, California.
That left Madsen on 11 under 133 after 36 holes, with New Zealand’s Lydia Ko and South Korea’s Choi Hye-jin sharing second on 135 and South Koreans An Na-rin and Ko Jin-young on 136 with Canada’s Maude-Aimee Leblanc.
“I have confidence out there winning like two weeks ago,” Madsen said. “Making a lot of good putts and hitting a lot of greens.
“It just changes you a little bit I guess, having a win on your back, especially so recently. It definitely took some pressure off.”
Ko Jin-young, the world No 1 and 18-hole leader after an opening 65, saw the end of her amazing streak of rounds in the 60s with a one under 71 on Friday.
She answered early bogeys at the 2nd and par-three 3rd with birdies at the par-five 5th and 8th and another at the par-three 14th but couldn’t keep her 60s streak going.
Coming off her 13th career LPGA title three weeks ago at Singapore, Ko completed her 32nd consecutive under-par LPGA round, but her run of rounds in the 60s ended at 16.
“I tried to hit it 60s, but I couldn’t,” Ko said. “I don’t know what happened. But greens are a little tricky to me so I missed a lot of putts, so that’s the reason why I couldn’t hit it 60s today.
“I tried to calm my mind and don’t be upset on the course. I’m world No 1. Have good attitude on the course, and I did.”
Madsen said she can’t worry about the top-ranked South Korean star finding her form for a weekend charge.
“You cannot think about what Jin-young Ko is doing,” Madsen said. “If she decides she wants to play well, then no one can really follow her.
“As long as I’m doing what I can do, then that’s good for me. If I stay positive out there, then I’m happy with that.”
© Agence France-Presse