NAPLES, Florida. Lydia Ko is in complete control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.
Full control over seasonal scoring and cash races.
Ko hit 6-66 in the second round of Friday’s LPGA Tour season finale, taking her to 13 points in the tournament and five shots ahead of Hyo Joo Kim by 36 holes.
Ko hit four birdies in the six-hole stretch midway through her round, swept the test 4-footer to keep par on the 13th par-4 to maintain what was then a four-shot lead, and hasn’t missed a beat since. one throw. her opening hole on Thursday.
“I just wanted to focus on my game,” said Ko, who turned a one-hit lead on Friday into a five-hit lead when it was over. “It was a pretty tight leaderboard. I shot low yesterday and this round it could be anyone for a week.”
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Except that no one drops as low as Ko right now.
Her flawless round ended a big day for the LPGA, which unveiled its 2023 schedule with record $101.4 million purses earlier on Friday.
66 Ko points was the best result of the day; four other players shot 67s. Two rounds at Tiburon resulted in a score of 66 or lower four times; Koh has two of them after opening 65 on Thursday.
Kim (69) made back-to-back birdies on 16 and 17 to get to 8 short, the only one in second place. World No. 1 Nelly Korda (69) ranks third in the U7 rankings, along with Japan’s Nasa Hataoka (67), Sweden’s Anna Nordqvist (69) and Scot’s Gemma Dryburgh (70).
Korda moved forward, completing her first nine with three birds on a four-hole patch. But she did nothing but parts on the back nine.
“Leeds are playing well. She had an amazing year,” Korda said. “To catch her, I’ll just have to play aggressively and exhaust my shots.”
And even that may not be enough. Everyone is chasing Ko who is chasing trophies and more.
Ko started the week with a one-point lead in the race for the LPGA Tour Player of the Year. She needs to avoid total weekend disaster to win her second consecutive Vare Trophy for the lowest average of the year. These titles will bring her closer to the LPGA Hall of Fame.
And with the winner expecting the biggest single prize in women’s golf of $2 million, that means the cash title is also within her grasp.
“It was a good day,” Ko said. “It was more solid than yesterday. … I really couldn’t ask for more to start this week.”
Co. now averages 68,964 this year. Attai Titikul’s season average is now 69.447. It took Titicul about 40 hits between them over the weekend to catch up with Ko in this race.
And if Ko wins the tournament, she will raise her earnings for 2022 to $4,364,403 and effectively secure her cash title.
“Lydia is Lydia,” said Irishwoman Leona Maguire, who scored 69 goals for the second day in a row; she is tied for seventh by 6, seven shots behind Ko. “I’m sure she will continue, so in the end try to shoot as low as you can on the weekend and see what happens.”
CHALLENGES: Jin Yong Ko, in contention for a fourth straight victory at Tiburon, threw 75 shots and was 16 shot behind. Stacey Lewis climbed out of the green bunker on the 18th and finished round 70 with a birdie. She is 5 years younger than the tournament. … Brooke Henderson, visibly ill with a back problem that plagued her last week, scored 2 over 74 and 2 under in a week. … Pajari Annanrukarn and Daniel Kang each had 66 points on Thursday; none of them came close to that Friday. Annanrukarn fired 73, Kang 74.