Nasa Hataoka survived an up-and-down second round to keep her grip on the lead at the Marathon LPGA Classic at Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania, Ohio.
A day after flirting with a 59 and settling for a 10-under 61, the 22-year-old from Japan carded a 69 with six birdies and four bogeys. At 12-under 130, she enters the weekend two strokes ahead of Mina Harigae, with Alison Lee and Elizabeth Szokol tied for third at 9 under.
Hataoka opened the day with a four-shot advantage but came back to the pack and even ceded the lead as she bogeyed three of her first seven holes. A bogey at No. 13 sent her to 8 under for the event before she ripped off four straight birdies at Nos. 14-17.
Hataoka said she planned to look into making an adjustment with her irons before the weekend.
“My shots were not as good as yesterday,” she said. “Didn’t have that many chances. I had a lot of problems, but I was able to fix that for the last part and bring it back up.”
Hataoka, the 11th-ranked player in the world, is seeking her first win on tour since the Kia Classic in 2019. She lost a playoff to Yuka Saso of the Philippines at the U.S. Women’s Open in June.
Harigae, Lee and Szokol all fired 5-under 66s to make their way up the leaderboard. For the second straight round, Harigae posted a 66 with five birdies and no bogeys.
Szokol opened on the back nine and bogeyed two of her first three holes, which included two three-putts. Yet she managed to rebound with five birdies by the end of her first nine, and briefly took a share of the lead at 9 under while Hataoka was amid her struggles.
“I was just trying to push (the early bogeys) out of my mind,” said Szokol, who had eight birdies and three bogeys. “I knew there was so many good opportunities coming in. It was only the first three holes and I started on the back nine, so I knew 17 and 18 were reachable par-5s for me, so I knew there were birdies out there. Made a bunch of birdies yesterday, so I felt pretty good that I would get some putts to drop.”
Lee had six birdies against one bogey.
Germany’s Esther Henseleit is tied for fifth at 8 under after tying Esther Lee for best score of the round with a 64.
Jennifer Kupcho (65), Gerina Piller (65), Lauren Stephenson (69) and South Korea’s Chella Choi (66) also are part of the tie.
–Field Level Media
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