Lydia Ko has soared into title contention at the halfway stage of the LPGA Tour’s Mizuho America’s Open in New Jersey.
The Kiwi golfer shot a three-under 69 to match her opening round score at Liberty National Golf Course and move up to joint second on the leaderboard, one shot behind Australian Minjee Lee and American Cheyenne Knight.
Starting the day in a tie for fifth, Ko carded four birdies and just one bogey in another solid round to move to six-under for the tournament.
After bogeying her third hole, the world No 3 got back on track with successive birdies on the 6th and 7th holes. Another birdie on the 10th put her on the brink of the overall lead but she was unable to fully capitalise on a strong start, finishing her round with eight consecutive pars.
Ko shares third with India’s Aditi Ashok, who followed her five-under opening round with a one-under 67.
Two-time major winner Lee surged to the top of the leaderboard from 55th after a sparkling eight-under 64, a huge improvement on her opening round 73.
Lee hit eight birdies in a blemish-free second round to supplant overnight leader Lauren Hartlage, who fell to a tie for 12th after carding an error-strewn four-over 76.
Knight was tied for fifth with Ko at the start of the day but moved ahead of the Kiwi with a four-under round featuring six birdies and two bogeys.
Lydia Ko produced another solid round at Liberty National Golf Course to move into a share for third.
Meanwhile, Ko’s fellow Kiwi Ryan Fox had a much better day at the Memorial Tournament in Ohio, though his two-under 70 might not be enough to avoid the halfway cut.
After carding a five-over 77 in a horror first round at Muirfield Village Golf Club, Fox started the day in a share for 95th and with plenty of work to do if he wanted to make it through to the weekend.
And the world No 41 did his chances no harm with a much-improved display, hitting five birdies and three bogeys to get round in 70 strokes.
Starting his round on the back nine, Fox made the worst possible start when he bogeyed the 458-yard par-4 10th, but a run of three consecutive birdies from holes 13 to 15 put him two-under for the day and in with a chance of avoiding the dreaded cut line.
Another bogey on the 17th pin checked his progress, though the Aucklander soon got back on track, birdieing the 2nd and 4th holes before a costly bogey on his final hole saw him finish in a tie for 64th, facing an anxious wait over his fate.
American Justin Suh leads the way at the halfway stage after shooting a six-under 66 that puts him on eight-under for the tournament.
Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama is a further shot back, with American duo David Lipsky and Patrick Cantlay in a share for third on six-under.