NAPLES (Florida) • Lydia Ko, the world's No. 1 woman golfer, stumbled late to leave South Korea's Jang Ha Na atop the leaderboard after Friday's second round of the LPGA's CME Group Tour Championship at the Tiburon Golf Club.
The 18-year-old Kiwi star, coming off her first Major title earlier this year, is battling South Korea's second-ranked Park In Bee for a host of awards in this season-ending showdown, including Player of the Year honours as well as money and point crowns and the top ranking.
Jang, a 23-year-old rookie seeking her first LPGA title, fired a seven-under 65 to finish 36 holes on 134 with Ko next on 136 after a 67.
Jang birdied four of the first six holes and two of the first three on the back nine. Ko had six birdies in her first 11 holes and was level with Jang until a double bogey at No. 15.
Both made bogeys at the par-three 16th as well, then each birdied No.s 17 and 18 to keep Jang ahead by two.
"The lucky thing for me is that No. 17 is a birdie-able hole if you hit some good shots and I took advantage of that," Ko said. "I miss-hit my second shot on No. 18 but I got lucky and just said, 'Put a confident stroke on it'. It's not the greatest thing to make a double and a bogey during the end of your round but to finish strong, I think that definitely helps going into the weekend."
Americans Cristie Kerr and Jennifer Song shared third on 137 after each firing 69. Another stroke back were France's Karine Icher (67) and Americans Brittany Lincicome (70) and Gerina Piller (70).
Park, coming off a win last week in Mexico, fired a 69 with six birdies and three bogeys - the last on No. 18 - to share 13th on 140.
"I played good on the par-fives today, birdied every par-five, just haven't played that well on the other holes," she said.
She must finish at least 12th to have a chance of dethroning Ko as No. 1, but would need to win to do it if the teenager remains among the front runners.
"Definitely watched the leaderboard a couple times when I was playing," Park said of keeping an eye on Ko. "It seems like she's doing really well and she really likes this golf course."
CME GROUP TOUR CHAMPIONSHIP
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