Ko pops up, 3 shots behind Lee, Harigae at US Women’s Open
SOUTH PINES, North Carolina (AP) — Jin Young Ko never seems to stress out. She doesn’t let go either.
The world No. 1 qualified for a third major championship on Friday, playing the final five holes in 3-under to come within three strokes of Minjee Lee and Mina Harigae in the second round at the US Women’s Open.
Harigae and Lee were 9 under 133 after 36 holes at Pine Needles. Lee shot a 5-under 66 and Harigae had a 69.
Three-time major champion Anna Nordqvist and Hye-Jin Choi, who shot a 64 to close in on the lowest round in the event’s 77-year history, had 7 under. Nordqvist had a 68.
Ko was tied for fifth at 6 under with Swedish amateur Ingrid Lindblad. Ko shot 67, and Lindblad followed his amateur record of 65 on Thursday with a 71.
Ko hasn’t won a major tournament since 2019, but won five LPGA Tour events last year and has one victory already this year.
“I don’t think about winning,” Ko said. “I just think about myself and just focus on my game. I just talk with my caddy and have fun.
Ko made his move with a birdie on the No. 14, then hammered a 3-wood into the green on the par-5 15 and made an eagle putt from 65 feet.
Nelly Korda, the world’s No. 2 playerwas six shots off the pace after a 69. She is playing in her first tournament since undergoing surgery on her left arm to repair a blood clot.
It looked for a moment that Harigae could retain sole possession of the lead for a second day in a row.
But Lee, ranked No. 4 in the world, surged in the afternoon after shooting 31 from the front nine. Lee has already won two LPGA tournaments this year.
Several players spoke of slow play on an afternoon when light rain threatened to bring play to a halt.
“A lot of waiting, so I feel like I just tried to calm myself down,” Nordqvist said.
Lexi Thompson struggled throughout the streak like she did in the final round of the US Open last year when she surrendered a five-stroke lead after a last nine collapse and lost .
But she managed to close with a birdie for a 69 that left her 3 under.
“I had a few bad breaks, but that’s what it is. It’s golf,” said Thompson, the No. 6 player in the world.
Harigae, who played collegiate about 80 miles away at Duke and idolized North Carolina’s Michael Jordan growing up, said she’s been a very mature person since joining the LPGA Tour – and hopes that will help him in the long run.
“I feel like I have better tools to navigate these new experiences,” said Harigae, 32. “I think by trying to be calm I get through my day.”
She will need that calm with some big players right behind her.
Danielle Kang, the world’s No. 12 player, barely made it to 3 after revealing she had a spinal tumor.
Yuka Saso was among those not made, marking the second year in a row the defending champion has failed to make it through the weekend. She finished at 9 over.
Other notables who won’t play this weekend include 10-time Major champion Annika Sorenstam and 2014 champion Michelle Wie West.
Sorenstam, who qualified for the event by winning the US Women’s Senior Open last year, spent much of the back nine in the sand and the 51-year-old looked tired as the set s eternalized. She shot 81.
Despite the frustrating part, she smiled when she received a hug from her son Will as she left the 18th green.
“I knew what I had to do today,” said Sorenstam, who finished 13 of 155. “I was shooting par or better, and coming here I think I said I felt good. in everything. I don’t really know what happened today.
Wie West, playing in penultimate career tournament, of the year, missed the cut by two shots, shooting 73-74. Wie West plans to play the 2023 US Open at Pebble Beach before retiring.
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