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Saturday, October 29, 2016
Amy extends her lead at LPGA Malaysia
Amy Yang leads by three strokes at the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia on Friday. - S.S.KANESAN / The Star
KUALA LUMPUR: Amy Yang moved three shots clear at the halfway stage of the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia after a two-over 69 took her to 10-under 132 for the tournament.
The 27-year-old South Korean, who held a two-stroke advantage going into the second round on Friday, traded an eagle and a birdie against a lone bogey at the TPC Kuala Lumpur.
Compatriot Hur Mi-jung (65), Taiwan's Candie Kung (65) and Sweden's Anna Nordqvist (68) are hot on her heels with 36-hole total of 135s.
Amy had a slow start in the second day with 10 straight pars before sinking an eagle on the par-four 12th.
“It wasn't the way I wanted to start the front nine,” said the two-time US Open runner-up.
“I had a few really good chances to make some birdie putts, but I missed it. But I tried to be patient all day.
“It (the eagle) it was about 125 yards (114 metres). I hit my pitching wedge to the pin and it came off really solid off the face.
“It looked like it was going to go really close but it went in. When the ball disappeared, I went 'yay, finally'!”
Amy, with only two LPGA Tour titles to date, then dropped a shot on the 14th. She managed to play just another hole before the play was suspended for an hour due to rain.
The rain, according to Amy, was a blessing in disguise as she birdied the 16th for a crucial gain before closing with two consecutive pars.
“I was getting a little frustrated about not making putts … and I was getting hungry,” she explained.
“So I went back (during the suspension), ate lunch, and it actually gave me some time to think about what was going on and about the next three ... how to finish, so it helped.
“Golf can be really easy like yesterday, but it can be also a little slow like today.
“I think it was a good round nevertheless. I didn't fall back. I stayed patient .... finished good.”
Jang Ha-na of South Korea fired a flawless 67 to climb nine rungs to fifth and was joined by fellow Korean Jenny Shin, American Michelle Wie, Spain's Azahara Munoz and the 2014 champion Feng Shanshan of China after the quartet carded an identical 70 for to stay four shots off the pace. The four of them have also opened with matching 66s on Friday.
World No.1 Lydia Ko posted a 69 to improve on her opening 71, but was left ruing the three shots she conceded in the last two holes.
The 19-year-old had five birdies to go five-under after 16 holes before bogeying the the par-four eighth for her first blemish of the day.
She then found the water on the ninth to end on double bogey and sits tied 23rd on 140.
“I gave myself many looks for birdies. A lot of the putts, if they didn't go in, they were close,” she said.
“So, overall, it was a really good round. Obviously it's not that great to end with a bogey and double on the last two holes, but overall, I think I played more solid today compared to yesterday."
Touted to heat up the competition with Lydia, Ariya Jutanugarn fared no better as the Thai world No. 2 struggled to a 75 and slipped to joint 43rd on 143.
American Jessica Korda kept his title defence bid alive by carding a 68 to leave her seven shots behind Amy.
On a day that saw many of the Malaysian Angels faltered, national top amateur Nur Durriyah Damian was the only saving grace.
The Thailand Open champion added a solid 71 to her opening 75 to be tied 54th on 146 with five others including Kelly Tan, who carded a poor 74.
Jean Chua, the best Malaysian performer in the first round, registered a shocking 15-over 86 to drop to 76th spot.