Three chip-ins and a late charge in the second round today put Eun-Hee Ji at 15 under par and in the lead midway through the LPGA’s Lotte Championship at Ko Olina Golf Club.
Ji’s birdie and eagle chips on holes Nos. 10 and 1 (she started on the back nine) got her going, and four more birdies down the stretch helped her to the day’s best score of 65. Ji also chipped in her final birdie, on hole No. 8. She is two strokes ahead of first-round leader Nelly Korda headed into Friday’s third round.
Ji has played this event every year since its 2012 inception. She has missed just one cut. Her best finish was last year, when she tied for 11th, shooting 3 under par.
“I think it was lucky,”Ji said after Thursday’s round. “I had a chip-it-in three times. Makes (it) a lot different for me.”
Korda’s 4-under 68 on Thursday put her at 13 under for the event.
Unlike during Wednesday’s first round, the wind was up at the west Oahu course.
“It was completely different to yesterday. I actually experienced Hawaii weather today,” said Korda, playing here for the first time. “It was tough. I didn’t hit every shot perfect. I had a couple bogeys. But I ended up playing pretty solid today.”
Defending champion Brooke Henderson also shot 4 under Thursday morning and was in third place, four strokes off the pace, tied with 2016 winner Minjee Lee. Lee shot 6 under in the second round.
Azahara Munoz, who was second last year, shot her second consecutive round of 5 under to end the day tied for fifth with Moriya Jutanugarn at 10 under. Munoz has four top-10 finishes among her seven previous tournaments this year.
“I really like this golf course,” Munoz said. “The fact that it’s windy but the greens hold, I don’t mind so much the wind.”
Michelle Wie missed the cut, finishing at 10 over after shooting 77 in today’s second round, repeating her score of Wednesday’s first round.
At the end of the day, Wie was tied for 141st among the 144 golfers entered.
Wie, who won this tournament in 2014, aggravated her right hand during Wednesday’s round; it is the same hand that she had surgery on last year.