Maja Stark fired a four-under-par 68 to claim the outright lead at the halfway stage of the LPGA Shanghai on Friday, with two-time champion Danielle Kang and China’s Liu Yu a shot behind.
Overnight co-leader Stark, the Swede who is chasing a second victory on the LPGA Tour, was 10 under after two rounds at a soggy Qizhong Garden Golf Club.
Kang was lurking in tied second with home hope Liu after the American carded seven birdies against two bogeys for a second-round 67.
With light rain falling steadily throughout the day, Spain’s Azahara Munoz, Japan’s Yuna Nishimura and Pavarisa Yoktuan of Thailand were tied for fourth, two shots off Stark.
Thailand’s Wichanee Meechai, who shared the lead with Stark after the first round, shot 72 and was four shots off at six under.
World No 1 Lilia Vu of the United States was in the hunt at five under after carding a 67.
China’s world No 2 Yin Ruoning shot 70 to go with her opening-round 71 and was in tied 30th at three under.
South Africa’s Paula Reto was one over (T56) after a round of 71.
The 23-year-old Stark had one bogey and five birdies to keep her pursuers, led by Kang, at bay.
“I think I played a little bit better than yesterday actually because I hit better shots,” she said, having shot 66 in the opening round. “Obviously didn’t make as many putts as I did yesterday, but overall my game felt better.”
The 30-year-old Kang, who won in Shanghai on the previous two occasions the event took place, in 2018 and 2019, was briefly in the lead before a bogey – her second of the day – at the par-five 17th.
“I feel like I am in really good position,” said Kang, who has won six times on the LPGA Tour but has struggled for form this year and is now 37th in the world rankings.
“I know my golf this year hasn’t been up to par and I understand that,” she added.
“People have made enough comments about my golf game and yes, I have not played as good as I should, or that they think I should.”
© Agence France-Presse
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