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Olson surges ahead at Sentosa

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Unheralded American Amy Olson continued her dream debut at the HSBC Women’s World Championship today, carding a three-under par 69 to pull out a two-shot lead over the chasing pack at the halfway stage.

The joint round one leader played a near flawless round consisting of an eagle on the par-five fifth hole and two further birdies on the 13th and 16th holes; a bogey on the 14th was her only dropped shot of the day, putting her at the top of the leader board on seven-under par.

The 26-year old from North Dakota turned pro in 2013 and is yet to win her first LPGA tournament. But some strong performances in 2018, including a second-place finish at the Evian Championship, saw her make the elite 63-player field for Singapore for the first time. A fully qualified accountant, she needed no help in crunching the numbers from her first two rounds.

“I hit the ball really, really good today. Gave myself a ton of birdie opportunities on the front, and honestly, I just couldn’t read the greens out there today. I don’t know if the pins were just in tricky spots but I gave up a lot of opportunities on the front nine. The back nine is playing really tough, and just stayed patient with it. A couple of putts kind of fell at the end, but just overall, kind of a steady day.”

Azahara Munoz shot the low round of the day, 68, to bring herself into contention. The Spaniard, runner-up to Paula Creamer here in Singapore in 2014, is in good company in second place alongside two-time tournament winner Inbee Park, World No.1 Ariya Jutanugarn, World No.3 Minjee Lee and England’s Jodi Ewart Shadoff.

Comparing her first two rounds, Munoz, whose sole LPGA Tour win came back in 2012, said: “It doesn’t take much to go from a really good round to an okay round, so today I hit a couple of them, like really tap-ins and those were easy birdies. That was the difference, really.”

Meanwhile Inbee Park, who shot three-under par 69 in round two, will be one to watch over the weekend. A winner on The Serapong course here in 2015 and again in 2017 when the tournament moved to the New Tanjong, the seven-time Major winner and reigning Olympic champion knows a thing or two about closing out a tournament. The popular South Korean will be looking to extend the winning pattern in 2019.

Commenting on her track record at the HSBC Women’s World Championship, Park said: “I feel always quite comfortable playing in Singapore, and it has been very successful for a few years. I just love the atmosphere and I love the place, love the golf course. It really suits my eye, and the windy conditions I really don’t mind so far. Hopefully I keep that going for the next two days.”

The tournament is Park’s first of the year. “You know, my putter is still a little bit rusty, so trying to get the speed and the breaks right; the next couple of days, that will be really helpful,” added the South Korean.

Australia’s Minjee Lee and Ariya Jutanugarn of Thailand both carded one-under par on Friday, while Jodi Ewart Shadoff went two-under. One shot further back at four-under par and in joint seventh place are the elder of the two Jutanugarn sisters Moriya, World No.2 Sung Hyun Park of South Korea and Spain’s Carlotta Ciganda.

Another player to make steady progress amid blustery conditions in round two was former World No.1 Lydia Ko of New Zealand, who shot two-under par to leave her tied in 13th place.

Singapore’s Amanda Tan endured another difficult day in the challenging conditions at her home club. The 20-year old local shot twelve over par to leave her at 23-over heading into the weekend.

For more information, visit the tournament website at www.hsbcgolf.com/womens

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