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Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn One Shot Off the Lead at LPGA Founders Cup Tournament in Arizona



Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand watches her tee shot on the 12th hole during the second round of the Bank Of Hope Founders Cup at Wildfire Golf Club in Phoenix. – Photo AP

PHOENIX – Thailand’s Ariya Jutanugarn is one shot off the lead heading into the third round of the LPGA Founders Cup tournament in Arizona.

The Thai world No.7 is in a group of four players who trail American rookie Cydney Clanton, who is looking for her first victory on the women’s golf tour.

Clanton was aggressive on the back nine Friday at Desert Ridge, taking dead aim at the back left pin on the par-4 13th and holing out for eagle from 72 yards. She shot a 5-under 67, playing the back nine in 5-under 31 to reach 9-under 135.

“You just have to go in attack mode, because everybody else is going to go in attack mode,” she said.

Ariya shot a 68 for the second straight day, with one bogey, to end at 8-under, tied with Marina Alex of the US, Mariajo Uribe of Colombia and Karine Icher of France.

“I actually didn’t hit it that well today, maybe I had some luck,” said Ariya. “I still had so much fun out there and I’m working on my commitment.”

Less fortunate on the day was sister Moriya, who has been a model of consistency and regular top-10 finisher since last season, but missed the cut with a two-round score of 4-over.

Other Thais still contending are Pornanong Phatlum at 2-under par, one stroke ahead of Wichanee Meechai, Thidapa Suwannapura and PK Kongkraphan.

Two shots off the lead at 7-under is Thailand Open winner Jessica Korda, who had a solid 68 on Friday despite battling a head cold. One shot further back is veteran Michelle Wie, who won the HSBC Championship in Singapore earlier this month.

Among notable names missing the cut were former world No.1 Lydia Ko, 2016 Founders Cup winner Kim Sei-young and Canadian star Brooke Henderson.

Meanwhile, Hong Ran set the early pace at the Inaugural Brunei Ladies Open on Saturday when the Korean veteran opened with seven-under 64 for a two shot lead.

Oh Ji-hyun was alone in second place after carding a five-under 66 over the Empire Hotel and Country Club layout, one stroke ahead of her Korean compatriots Lee Jung-min, Kim Su-ji, Han Jin-seon and Choi Eun-woo on 67.

Thais Narisara Kerdrit, Supamas Sangchan and Pannarat Thanapolboonyaras were the top China LPGA Tour regulars in a group of 12 players on 69. Zhang Jienalin and Chen Liqing were the leading China mainland players at even-par 71.

The US$658,000 tournament is tree-sanctioned by the CLPGA Tour, the Brunei Darussalam Golf Association and the LPGA of Korea Tour (KLPGA).

Suwan native Hong, a three-time winner on the KLPGA Tour but winless since 2010, put herself in contention with a bogey-free round that finished strongly with five birdies over the back nine of the Jack Nicklaus-designed seaside resort course.

Source: Associated Press, Al Campbell

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