BC-GLF--LPGA Tour,1st Ld-Writethru
PHOENIX (AP) — Sung Hyun Park isn’t a big fan of birdie-fest golf. She’s still awfully good at it.
“Personally, I like the difficult course better than the easy course,” Park said through a translator.
The top-ranked South Korean shot her second straight 6-under 66 on Friday at the Founders Cup for a share of the lead with Yu Liu halfway through the second round in the event that honors the 13 women who founded the LPGA Tour.
Coming off a victory three weeks ago in Singapore, Park birdied five of the first six holes on her final nine in perfect conditions at Desert Ridge. She lost the outright lead with a closing bogey on the par-4 ninth.
“Overall, I’m really happy with the play today, especially putting was really good,” Park said. “The shots were better than yesterday.”
The 25-year-old has six tour victories, winning majors in far more difficult conditions at the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open and 2018 Women’s PGA Championship.
Liu had 10 birdies in a 64 to match Park at 12-under 132.
“I don’t expect this to happen every day,” Liu said. “When a day like this comes, I just am glad I was able to take advantage of it.”
The 23-year-old Chinese player teed off at 7 a.m. in the first group of the day off the 10th tee.
“Definitely being the first off, the greatest advantage is pure greens and calm conditions,” Liu said.
Lydia Ko had her second straight 67, playing alongside Park.
“Obviously, the golf course is known to have some low scores,” Ko said. “You just have to go out there, try to play your game, and maybe play a little bit more aggressive than any other golf course.”
She was two strokes back with first-round leader Celine Boutier (70), Amy Yang (66), Mi Jung Hur (66) and Nanna Koerstz Madsen (69).
Boutier eagled the par-5 15th — holing out from a greenside bunker after hitting a drive that bounced off a cart path and went 340 yards — to tie Park for the lead at 13 under, but dropped three strokes on her final three holes. The 5-foot Frenchwoman, the Vic Open winner last month in Australia for her first LPGA Tour title, bogeyed the par-4 16th and had a double bogey on the par-4 18th.
“I don’t feel great right now,” Boutier said. “Just not a good finish.”
Boutier teamed with Liu to help Duke win the 2014 NCAA title.
“She’s one of my closest friends out here,” Boutier said. “We played on the Symetra Tour two years ago together, we graduated together and then last year we had a pretty good rookie year on the LPGA Tour together.”
Yang won in Thailand last month for her fourth LPGA Tour title — and third in the event.
Brooke Henderson was 9 under after a 68.
Sei Young Kim, the 2016 winner at a tournament-record 27 under, topped the group at 8 under after a 67.
Na Yeon Choi, a stroke behind Boutier on Thursday after a 65, was in the afternoon wave. She’s playing her first event after an 11-month layoff because of a back injury. Defending champion Inbee Park also had a late tee time.