Golf: Saso sizzles again at Lotte Championship

Yuka Saso teeing off at the Lotte Championship in Hawaii on April 15, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

HONOLULU (REUTERS) - Philippine teenager Yuka Saso produced a second consecutive stellar round on Friday (April 16), and she holds a two-shot lead at the midpoint of the Lotte Championship in Kapolei, Hawaii.

Saso, who shared first place after the opening round, carded a second consecutive eight-under 64 at Kapolei Golf Club on the island of Oahu.

Her 16-under 128 total has her in front of New Zealand's Lydia Ko, who recorded the best score of the tournament on Friday, a nine-under 63 that leaves her 14 under overall.

Spain's Luna Sobron Galmes (64), South Korea's Hyo Joo Kim (65), South Korea's So Yeon Ryu (68) and Nelly Korda (68) share third place at 11 under.

Brianna Do (66), Ally Ewing (69) and South Korea's A Lim Kim (64) are tied for tied for seventh place at 10 under.

Six players, including first-round co-leader Brittany Altomare (71) and amateur Rose Zhang (68), are seven strokes behind Saso, tied for 10th.

Saso, 19, is a regular on the LPGA of Japan Tour, but she finished in the top 15 at last year's US Women's Open. She is looking for her first victory on the LPGA Tour.

Her scorecard on Friday featured nine birdies, including four in a row around the turn, and just one bogey.

"Two more days, I'm trying to get used to it," said Saso, who admitted she was playing this course for the first time this week. "It's like Philippines but colder than Philippines and windier than Philippines. I made some good putts, had good up and downs, my driving was very consistent today."

Ko, 23, already has 15 LPGA wins, including two Majors, but she hasn't been victorious since April 2018. Her bogey-free round on Friday included three different streaks of back-to-back birdies.

"I started off well birdieing my first two holes, and then I think I just continuously gave myself opportunities," Ko said. "Especially around a golf course like this, the more times you're putting for birdie or having chances to putt for birdie the better.

"Especially when the winds come, I think it's a course where some players can go really low, so feel like I was able to do a pretty good job at that, and nice finishing off with a birdie on the last (hole)."

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