Kuala Lumpur: South Korea’s So Yeon Ryu took advantage of another hot start to open up a two-shot lead at the halfway stage of the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia on Friday.
The 24-year-old who carded an opening 66 yesterday went one better on the day, carding a scintillating six-under 65 including four consecutive birdies on her opening nine at the East Course of Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club.
Despite carrying a bug into the tournament, Ryu combined brilliant ball-striking and sharp putting to register a card of seven birdies and a solitary bogey to top the leaderboard on 11-under 131.
Japan’s Ayako Uehara provided the biggest spark of the day as she improved 29 places into a tie for second with eight birdies in a flawless round of 63. Joining her on 133 are England’s Jodi Ewart-Shadoff and New Zealand teenage sensation Lydia Ko, who both carded rounds of 64, and Eun-Hee Ji of Korea, who went around in 67.
Spain’s Azahara Munoz (65), Chinese star Shanshan Feng (67) and Pornanong Phatlum (67) of Thailand are a further stroke back in joint sixth. Overnight leader Stacy Lewis was one of few players to struggle, the world number one settling for a level-par 71 with four birdies and as many bogeys to drop into a seven-way tie for 11th place, five shots off the pacesetter.
The spotlight however remained firmly on crowd darling Ryu, who held on resolutely despite her depleting energy levels. “I think the golf course is really suited to my game, especially the front nine. I was five-under through seven holes and that just made things a lot more easy.
“But thing is it was really hot today, so on the back nine, my energy level was so low so my game wasn’t enough if I compared to the front nine. But still, 66 and 65 is good score for under my belt, so I’m pretty happy,” said the three-time LPGA Tour winner, who was boosted by a large turnout of Korean expatriates in the gallery.
Ryu credited her coach, who flew into Kuala Lumpur, for her excellent ball-striking after an indifferent week in her last tournament in Beijing. “I changed my ball position off the tee and also tweaked my routine a bit and it’s been coming back. My ball-striking is in really great shape, so I really look forward to keeping it up in the coming days,” added Ryu.
World number three Ko has an outside chance to take the world number one spot this week if she wins this week but is taking it one-shot at time.
“You just need to give yourself a lot of opportunities. The greens aren’t particularly easy to read. When you give yourself opportunities, you kind of just have to stroke it on the line you want it to. It goes in and it doesn’t. But, yeah, just try to make as many opportunities as possible. I’ve had a couple where it was like a threefooter for birdie, so I think that’s definitely helped.”
Leading second round scores:
131 – So Yeon Ryu (KOR) 66-65
133 – Ayako Uehara (JPN) 70-63, Lydia Ko (NZL) 69-64, Jodi Ewart Shadoff (ENG) 69-64, Eun-Hee Ji (KOR) 66-67
134 – Azahara Munoz (ESP)69-65, Pornanong Phatlum 67-67, Feng Shanshan (CHN) 67-67
135 – Chella Choi (KOR) 69-66, Jenny Shin (KOR) 67-68
136 – Ilhee Lee (KOR) 70-66, Angela Stanford (USA) 69-67, Gerina Piller (USA) 69-67, Catriona Matthew (SCO) 68-68, Mi Hyang Lee (KOR) 67-69, Stacy Lewis (USA) 65-71, Na Yeon Choi (KOR) 66-70