Lydia Ko – File photo Bruce Young
New Zealand’s Lydia Ko heads the seven Australasians through 36 holes of the ANA Inspiration Championship, the first major of the year in world golf.
Ko finds herself four shots from Thailand’s Patty Tavatanakit who leads by one over China’s Shanshan Feng.
Ko’s second round of 69 was highlighted by a closing nine of 33 which included an eagle at the 11th and two late birdies to put herself right in the hunt.
Minjee Lee, Gabriela Ruffels and Hannah Green are the best of the Australians at 2 under par, tied for 26th and seven from the lead.
Sarah Kemp, Su Oh and Katherine Kirk will unfortunately have the weekend off.
Ko’s round was a roller coaster of sorts and she would later say she has been on a roller coaster often in recent times.
“I’ve been on this roller coaster since last week. The good thing is I’m making plenty of birdies to make up for the bogeys I’ve been making.
“But I think I been trying to not get too in my head when I been making mistakes. You know, just trying to stay positive and go, Hey, if I have nine holes left I have nine chances for birdie. I’ve been lucky enough to kind of have a good comeback after a mistake which kind of gets rhythm going.
“Yeah, lots of birdie-bogeys or bogey-birdies, but hopefully I’ll be able to reduce a few of those clumsier mistakes and keep having fun out there.
“I think it started last week where I felt like my ball striking wasn’t there and my putting was okay. Then the ball striking kind of improved over the week and then I just had too many putts on the putting green.
“But, no, I think the game is a little bit better in general coming into this week, and I think — I’ve been taking it as a positive where, even if I make a mistake, I’ve been able to get up and make a birdie on the next or within the next few holes.
“I think that’s just helped me mentally. I think sometimes you’re not going to have your A game. I would say most people, like it’s really hard to have your A game every single day. You have to play with what you have. You have to play with that kind of shot that you have been hitting.
“I think you just play with what’s in front of you and not try to find it, and I think that is such a big key. Hopefully I’ll just be able to keep continuing the aspects that I’ve been doing well and polish up on a few things and see where I finish at the end of this weekend.”
Lee’s round of 70 included four birdies and a big weekend could yet see her vying for a first major championship title.
Ruffels finished 15th in this event as an amateur last year and in just her second appearance in the event she has done well with a round of 70 which included an eagle, four birdies and four bogeys.
Ruffels, who attended the University of Southern California during an amateur career which included a win and runner-up finish at consecutive US Women’s Amateur Championships, is considered destined for a successful professional career although at this stage she does not enjoy LPGA Tour status.
Hannah Green is one of only three Australian women to win a major championship title and she is well enough placed at the halfway mark although two bogeys late in her round are no doubt disappointing.
The leader Tavatanakit led after round one but an early bogey gave little sign of what was to come.
She eagled her 6th hole and birdied the 7th and went further ahead with birdies at her 11th and 13th holes before a late bogey saw her finish one ahead of Feng.
Tavatanakit has a New Zealand connection in so much as she is coached by New Zealand born and raised Grant Waite a winner on the PGA Tour.