Lydia Ko stays in hunt for a second LPGA title

FRED WOODCOCK
Last updated 11:39 23/06/2013

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Teenage golf star Lydia Ko has moved herself into contention for a second LPGA Tour victory heading into the final round of the NW Arkansas Championship, and Danny Lee is also on the title hunt in the United States.

Ko made a big move in today's second round, carding a five-under par 66 to get to seven-under for the $US2 million championship and just three shots off the lead.

The 16-year-old New Zealander started the 54-hole tournament with a two-under 69 yesterday but went bogey-free today to climb from 23rd into a share of ninth place at the Pinnacle Golf Club in Rogers, Arkansas.

And she's in the mix despite failing to take advantage of the par-fives; she has made par at all eight long holes she's played across the first two rounds.

The world No 1 amateur and 19th-ranked player in the overall world rankings is chasing a second LPGA Tour victory, having won the Canadian Open last year.

Japan's Chie Arimura, American Stacy Lewis, Spain's Beatriz Recari and South Korean So Yeon Ryu share the lead at 10-under par.

Another South Korean-born Kiwi, Lee, is in pole position after three rounds of the Web.com Tour's Rex Hospital Open in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Lee stated his intentions on moving day with a flawless eight-under par 63 to rocket to 17-under for the championship. He holds a four-stroke lead over Americans Andrew Putnam and Edward Loar heading into tomorrow's final round on the US second-tier tour. 

The 22-year-old Kiwi has made 19 birdies and just two bogeys across the first 54 holes at TPC Wakefield Plantation.

Victory at the NZ$809,000 event would all but secure Lee, the world No 289, a place on the PGA Tour next year but he will have to improve on his final round form this season as he's made a habit of starting hot then fading.

If he can turn that around tomorrow for his second Web.com Tour victory he would move to No 3 on the order of merit and essentially clip his ticket for a return to the big time in 2014.

Meanwhile, David Smail is just four shots off the pace at the $2 million Japan Golf Tour Championship event in Ibaraki.

Smail is tied for sixth at eight-under par, having carded rounds of 73, 68 and 67, and trails Satoshi Kodaira who is at 12-under par with one round remaining.

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- Fairfax Media

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