Thailand’s Moriya leads at halfway stage of LA Open

Thailand's Moriya leads at halfway stage of LA Open

Los Angeles (AFP) – Thailand’s Moriya Jutanugarn, who is seeking her first win on the USLPGA Tour, fired a bogey-free five-under 66 to take a one stroke lead after the second round of the LA Open.

Moriya started quickly on the back nine on Friday with two birdies in her first four holes of the round at the Wilshire Country Club course to reach a total of eight-under 134.

“I just tried to hit fairways and greens. That’s the key for this week. That’s what I try to do,” the former LPGA rookie of the year Moriya said. 

American Marina Alex is alone in second after shooting a 68 for a seven-under total while two time major winner Ryu So-yeon is in the hunt two shots back of Moriya after a 65.

Seven time major champion Park In-bee is tied for fourth with South Korean compatriot Ji Eun-hee at five-under 137. 

Ko Jin-young shot a 67 and is alone in sixth as five of the top six players are from South Korea to the delight of the galleries this week because Los Angeles is home to a huge South Korean expat community.

Moriya, who also has a sister Ariya on the Tour, rocketed to the top of the leaderboard with a burst of three straight birdies on her back nine. 

This is just the second time in her career Moriya has held the 36-hole lead. The first was last season at the Evian Championship, where she finished just one stroke away from making a playoff between Anna Nordqvist and Brittany Altomare.

Last week’s tournament champ Brooke Henderson of Canada stumbled to an eight-over 79 and missed the cut along with former major champions Anna Nordqvist, Stacy Lewis and Juli Inkster.