SINGAPORE: American Amy Olson held her nerve and kept a pack at bay that includes world number one Ariya Jutanugarn with a second-round three-under 69 Friday to lead the HSBC Women’s World Championship by two strokes.
Jutanugarn had scented the lead as the day wore on before Olson edged clear with a birdie on 16, and then the Thai’s putter let her down for a bogey five on the 18th.
The Thai star, 23, had racked up a three-birdie run from 14 to 16 and had appeared ready to take charge but she is still well in contention in the US$1.5 million event.
“It’s a lot of fun, but it’s Friday,” said Olson, who sits at seven-under-par 137. “There’s a lot of golf left.”
Jutanugarn said it was tough going, “especially when you keep playing and you’re not making any birdies”.
“You just really need to be patient and you know, you just have to understand this course, you’re not going to make much birdies. I feel like I miss all the putts. I just have to really work on it.”
There’s a wealth of talent at the 72-par Sentosa Golf Club.
Australian world number three Minjee Lee (71 on Friday) and South Korea’s former world number one Inbee Park (69) –- who won the tournament in 2017 and in 2015 –- were part of the five-way tie for second at five-under 139.
So too were Spain’s Azahara Munoz (68) and England’s Jodi Ewart Shadoff (70).
Lee had flirted with the lead during a day that featured three bogeys across the back nine, and she walked away disappointed but not entirely bereft of hope ahead of the weekend.
“I kept scrambling at the end, but I played pretty solid before my two bogeys (on 10 and 11),” she said. “I could take some positives out of that and try and have a good day tomorrow.”
Olson’s round came with an eagle three on the par-five fifth and then two birdies down the stretch, to offset a bogey that split them, as it kept her rivals at arm’s length.
“Today I was hitting it really well, so I like to go for it on those kind of days. But I feel like I stayed within myself and kind of played smart golf. So that’s really important,” she said.
She might have the most to worry about from Park, given the South Korean’s history here and her love of the course.
“The greens are really firm and it was a little windy, so it’s tougher conditions than the previous years we have played in Sentosa,” said the 30-year-old.