Golf: Top-ranked Park Sung-hyun shares lead with Chinese Liu Yu in LPGA Founders Cup

Park Sung-hyun (left) and Liu Yu were two strokes clear of a group of eight players on 10-under 134.
Park Sung-hyun (left) and Liu Yu were two strokes clear of a group of eight players on 10-under 134.PHOTOS: AFP

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - China's Liu Yu made the most of her early morning start, firing an eight-under 64 on Friday (March 22) to join world No. 1 Park Sung-hyun atop the leaderboard of the LPGA Founders Cup.

Liu matched France's Celine Boutier - a former teammate at Duke University - for low round of the tournament to seize a share of the halfway lead on 12-under 132.

The South Korean posted her second straight 66 at Wildfire Golf Club in Phoenix, Arizona.

She and Liu were two strokes clear of a group of eight players on 10-under 134 that included overnight leader Boutier as well as former world No. 1 Lydia Ko of New Zealand.

They were joined by American Angel Yin, Sweden's Linnea Strom and top-15 player Amy Yang of South Korea, among others.

Defending champion Park In-bee of South Korea headed a group of five on 135.

Liu was in the first group off the tee at No. 10, bouncing back from an opening bogey with three straight birdies.

She followed another bogey at the 14th with birdies at Nos. 15 and 18, and birdied five holes coming in.

"Just everything kind of clicked all together," said Liu, who admitted that it was not something she would expect to happen every day.

"When a day like this comes, I just am glad I was able to take advantage of it," she said, adding that the chilly temperatures that greeted her group slowed her early.

"My putting definitely helped me a lot on the front nine," she said. "On the back nine the weather warmed up and I was hitting it close and I was able to capitalise on those short- and mid-range birdie putts."

Park also teed off on the 10th and after playing her first nine holes in two-under.

She came alive over her final nine, with birdies at five of six holes that included a run of four straight from the first through the fourth.

A bogey at the ninth prevented her from holding the solo 36-hole lead.

"Overall I'm really happy with the play today, especially putting was really good and the shots were better than yesterday," she said.

Strom was eyeing a share of the lead with nine birdies and no bogeys through 17 holes before a double bogey at 18.

Boutier, who fired eight birdies without a bogey on Thursday, was as low as 13 under after three birdies and an eagle at the par-five 15th. But she fell back with a bogey at the 16th and a double bogey at the last.