American teen Lucy Li fired a bogey-free seven-under-par 64 to seize a two-stroke lead after Friday’s second round of the LPGA Dana Open.
Li, a 19-year-old prodigy of Chinese heritage who played in the US Women’s Open at age 11, stood on 10 under 132 after 36 holes at Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania, Ohio.
“Hitting it really good,” Li said. “Just got a few more putts to drop today.”
Chinese 19-year-old Yin Ruoning and Spain’s Carlota Ciganda, who shared the 18-hole lead with South Korea’s Choi Hye-jin, each fired 69s to share second on eight under.
Defending champion Nasa Hataoka of Japan fired a 66 to stand on seven under with Choi, Taiwan’s Hsu Wei-ling, Germany’s Caroline Masson and American Lexi Thompson.
South African Ashleigh Buhai is on four under, while Paulo Reto missed the cut.
After two victories this year on the US women’s developmental tour, Li has already secured a 2023 LPGA berth.
“Just having that good experience will definitely help me going into the weekend,” Li said.
Li shared ninth last week in Canada, her best LPGA Tour finish, to qualify for this week’s event as she chases her first title.
“I’ve never led an LPGA event before, so we’ll see,” Li said. “It’s kind of a new experience.”
Li, who started on the 10th hole, birdied the 12th and reeled off three birdies in a row starting at the 14th before adding another at the par-five 18th. She also birdied the par-four 3rd and par-three 6th holes.
“I was just hitting it really good, especially on my front nine and made a lot of good putts,” Li said. “On the back nine, I made a lot of good saves for par so that really kept the momentum going.”
Li won the inaugural girls 10-11 age group title at the 2014 Drive, Chip and Putt Championship at Augusta National, becoming one of the first female champions of any sort at the home of The Masters.
Yin, who also began on the back nine, answered bogeys at the 11th and par-five 17th with birdies on the next hole each time. She also birdied the par-five 7th and the 9th.
“Teeing off super early. I just feel part of me still in the bed,” Yin said. “Just tried to save some pars out there, make some putts.”
World No 421 Yin, a rookie making only her 12th LPGA start and coming off a wrist injury, missed the cut in seven of her nine prior LPGA starts this year.
“I just need to keep putting and keep shooting good shots,” Yin said. “I need to work on my approach and driver shot a little bit and I think everything will be fine.”
World No 40 Ciganda made birdies at the 3rd, 9th and par-three 14th holes with a lone bogey at the 5th.
“Overall, I played good,” Ciganda said. “Made a couple of saves, gave myself some chances. I would have liked a couple more birdies but I’m in a good position going into the weekend.”
Ciganda, who won her sixth Ladies European Tour title in July at Barcelona, won her only two LPGA Tour titles in 2016 at South Korea and Mexico.
Her best finish of the season, a share of third at the Evian Championship, also matched her best career Major showing.
World No 18 Choi, a rookie chasing her first LPGA victory, shared second at last week’s Canadian Open, her ninth top-10 showing of the season.
Australia’s Hannah Green fired a bogey-free 62, the week’s low round, to stand on six under.
Germany’s Aline Krauter, making her pro debut on a sponsor’s exemption, fired a 71 to stand on five under.
© Agence France-Presse