April 22nd, 2024

Green shoots 11-under, leads LPGA Ford Championship by one

By John Marshall, The Associated Press on March 30, 2024.

GILBERT, Ariz. (AP) – A sore throat and runny nose lowered Hannah Green’s expectations for the second round of the LPGA Tour Ford Championship.

She sure felt a lot better after a career-best round on a day full of low scoring.

Green birdied the final six holes for an 11-under 61 on Friday, giving her a one-shot lead going into the weekend.

“I missed short putt on the first and I was like, “˜Oh, OK, that’s fine,'” Green said. “I really took advantage of the shorter holes we had. I also holed a couple really long putts, maybe even moved the hole – it was that firm. But just felt really good out there, just had a really nice morning.”

Increased wind did little to slow the low scoring in the inaugural event at Seville Golf and Country Club, with 20 players shooting 67 or better and a cut line of 5 under – tied for lowest in LPGA history.

Green set the standard at 14-under 130 after making 11 birdies, tied for second-most ever behind Annika Sorenstam’s 13 during her historic 59 in 2001. Sarah Schmezel had a bogey-free 63 to match Peiyun Chien (65) at 13 under.

Azahara Munoz (68) and Hyo Joo Kim (67) were 12 under. Yuka Saso shot a bogey-free 63 that included two runs of four straight birdies. She was 11 under. Lydia Ko was tied with her and three others following a bogey-free 64.

Lexi Thompson moved into contention with a second-round 65. She was among 12 players at 10 under.

Maude-Aimee Leblanc (69) of Sherbrooke, Que., and Alena Sharp (70) of Hamilton, both sit seven shots back of the lead. Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ont., was one shot behind her fellow Canadians after a 71 on the day.

Savannah Grewal of Mississauga, Ont., missed the cut after finishing the round with a 76.

“The greens are firm, which is nice, but it’s kind of forgiving, too, so you can be aggressive and make lots of birdies,” Munoz said.

All the low scores left top-ranked Nelly Korda feeling a little left out, even if she’s still within reach of the lead. She closed with a bogey to shoot 68 and was four back in her bid to become the first LPGA player to win three straight starts since Ariya Jutanugarn in 2016.

Korda had consecutive birdies after starting on the back nine and had two bogeys in three holes to turn in 1-under 35. She had two birdies and eagled the par-5 fifth, but dropped a shot on the long par-4 ninth when the remnants of a dust devil knocked her approach shot short left and she couldn’t get up and down.

“A couple mistakes at the beginning and then obviously ending my round with a bogey didn’t feel great,” Korda said “But overall, still kept it under par and hopefully I can give myself a shot at the weekend.”

Green had no trouble going low.

The 27-year-old Australian took a six-week break following the Australian Open that included her marriage to Jarryd Felton.

Recharged, Green won the HSBC World Championship in China, but returned to the US to miss the cut at the Fir Hills Seri Pak Championship last week in Southern California. She started Friday’s second round at Seville six shots back and started racing up the leaderboard.

Green shot 4-under 32 on the front nine, added a birdie on No. 10 and closed with a flourish to shoot 29 on the back.

“The golf course is set up this week it’s definitely gettable,” Green said. “Obviously, you still have to do it.”

Maude-Aimee Leblanc (69) of Sherbrooke, Que., and Alena Sharp (70) of Hamilton, both sit seven shots back of the lead. Brooke Henderson of Smiths Falls, Ont., was one shot behind her fellow Canadians after a 71 on the day.

Jennifer Song had a hole-in-one on the 160-yard 14th, but also missed the cut at 4 under.

AP golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf

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