CALGARY – Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn fired eight birdies on Friday to vault into the lead after the second round of the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open.
The 20-year-old Thai star showed no signs of the knee injury that forced her to withdraw from the Olympics earlier this month, saying after the round that her left knee felt fine.
“I feel like I’m okay. I wanted to see how I’m feeling. But after [pulling out of Rio], like on Monday, it didn’t hurt that much and today it’s getting a lot better,” she said.
Ariya had to play 20 holes on Friday, including the final two holes of the weather-delayed first round. She bogeyed the par-5 18th for a 68 to complete her first round at 4 under par, then played a bogey-free second round in 64Â to bring her score to 12 under.
“I feel pretty good today and I hit my tee shots really well,” she told LPGA.com after her round. “I feel confident because I can hit my irons in the fairway,” she said, noting that the narrow layout at Priddis Greens Golf and Country Club outside Calgary limited her use of the driver.
Ariya enters the third round of the LPGA tournament three strokes ahead of In Gee-chun of Korea and Stephanie Meadow of Northern Ireland. Five players are bunched at 8 under, including Rio silver medallist Lydia Ko of New Zealand, and first-round leader Chella Choi of Korea. Thailand’s Budsabakorn Sukapan is still in the hunt at 7 under par.
Choi was three strokes ahead of Ariya when the first round wrapped up earlier on Friday. The Korean had four holes left to play on Thursday when darkness fell, and had to return at 7.15am Friday to complete her round.
Ariya has become one of the game’s top stars, winning three LPGA tournaments in a row earlier this year and following that up with a Women’s British Open victory last month. With nine top-10 finishes this year, she is now second behind Ko in the Rolex World Rankings and second on the money list with earnings of US$1.7 million this year.