Ko on track to defend Australian Amateur title

CHRIS BARCLAY
Last updated 06:19 17/01/2013
Lydia Ko
GRAHAME COX/Fairfax NZ
HIGH PRAISE: New Zealand Open favourite, Angela Stanford, says Lydia Ko (pictured) is a tremendous talent.

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Lydia Ko, the world's leading female amateur golfer completed the qualifying phase of the Australian Amateur Championships with a share of the medallist honours and a plumb draw when the defence of her crown continues in Melbourne today.

The 15-year-old and local hope Grace Lennon could not be separated after 36 holes spread over the Woodlands and Commonwealth clubs on Melbourne's sand belt as they recorded 6-under totals of 140.

Ko followed her opening round 4-under round of 69 at Woodlands with a 71 at nearby Commonwealth while Lennon was a picture of consistency with back-to-back 70s.

The duo was two strokes clear of West Australia's world No 4 Minjee Lee plus Japan's Asuka Kashiwabara and Kotone Hori.

The Korean-born Kiwi's impressive form in her season opener has been rewarded with an elimination match play contest with Jessica Dengate (NSW), who is ranked 31st among the 32 qualifiers to advance to the sudden death phase.

Ko is joined by compatriots Munchin Keh, despite her 7-over 80 yesterday, and Julianna Alvarez who still made the cut regardless of a 9-over tally of 155.

Keh, the 10th ranked qualifier has drawn Queenslander Dee Russell while Alzarez (19th) meets Carly Beck (NSW), who finished 14 th, for a place in the second round.

Sarah Bradley and Hanna Seifert were the New Zealanders to miss the cut; the attrition rate among the men's field was more significant.

Only seven of the 20 Kiwis slipped inside the top 64, Sam An led the dwindling contingent with a superb 5-under 67 at Woodlands yesterday.

An opened with an even-par 72 on the Commonwealth layout and ultimately finished in a tie for third with England's Nathan Kimsey.

A New Zealander is guaranteed to make tomorrow's second round after An drew Keelan Kilpatrick, who sneaked in at 61st.

Peter Lee also made the top half of the draw in 20th after rounds of 74 and 70 and will be striving to eliminate Victorian Ben Eccles when the round gets underway at Commonwealth - the tournament's prime venue and stage for Sunday's finals.

Blair Riordan, Cameron Jones, Brad Kendall  and Tyler Hodge all face higher-ranked opponents in Sebastian Schwind (Germany), Dale Brandt-Richards, Dylan Perry and Zac Stolz respectively.

Brady Watt claimed top seeding after posting rounds of 66 and 70 to close on 8-under, one stroke clear of Todd Sinnott, who had shared the opening round lead with the West Australian.

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