SHIGA, Japan – Minjee Lee shot an 8-under 64 to take a three-shot lead after the second round of the Japan Classic on Saturday.
Lee, seeking her second LPGA title this year, had eight birdies in a bogey-free round at the Seta Golf Club to improve to 13-under 131. She is three strokes ahead of local favorite Sakura Koiwai, who had seven birdies and a lone bogey for a 66.
The 22-year-old Lee from Perth, Australia, started with a birdie at the par-5 first hole and took advantage of the day’s prime scoring conditions with three straight birdies on Nos. 13-15.
”I’m probably hitting more fairways and giving myself more opportunities to hit it closer to the pin,” Lee said. ”I think my putting has definitely improved this year. Overall it just comes down to everything being a little bit better.”
The 20-year old Koiwai, in just her second season on the JLPGA Tour, finds herself as the leading Japanese contender and playing in Sunday’s final group.
”Everyone has a chance to win because you are looking at many birdies here. Anyone can come from behind,” said Koiwai. ”I just have to concentrate on my golf and I have to make as many birdies as possible.”
Nasa Hataoka, also of Japan, shot a 69 and was tied for third with Jiyai Shin (69) of South Korea.
Overnight leader So Yeon Ryu struggled with her game and shot a 73 that included three bogeys and a pair of birdies.
Nelly Korda, who won last week’s Taiwan Championship, had a 69 and was tied for 18th place.
The LPGA stop in Japan is the fourth of five consecutive tournaments across Asia.