Two late birdies – including a long bomb from 35 feet at the last – has kept Minjee Lee within reach of the leaders at the halfway mark of the LPGA Tour’s BMW Ladies Championship in Korea.
Chasing her second LPGA Tour win of the season after her major breakthrough at the Aumundi Evian Championship, Lee began the day three shots from the lead and with three birdies in her opening five holes was laying down the challenge.
Her round stalled with back-to-back bogeys at the eighth and ninth holes and it took a putt from 15 feet to avoid dropping another shot at the par-5 14th.
But just as she threatened to fall back into the pack the 25-year-old picked up a birdie at the par-4 17th and rolled in a perfect putt from the bottom tier to add a second at 18 for a round of 3-under 69 to be tied for sixth.
At 8-under through 36 holes Lee is three strokes back of co-leaders Hee Jeong Lim (66) and Na Rin An (69), fellow West Australian Hannah Green (72) and Victorian Su Oh (69) in a share of 26th.
With birdies at four, nine and 11 Green had climbed into the top 10 early in her back nine but bogeys at 13 and 16 saw her fall to 4-under through 36 holes and seven strokes off the lead.
At the PGA Tour’s ZOZO Championship in Japan the lone Aussie in the field, Matt Jones, will also enter the weekend inside the top 10 despite a disappointing end to his second round played in cold and wet conditions at Narashino Country Club.
With local hero Hideki Matsuyama (68) leading the way at 8-under par, Jones turned in 1-under with a single birdie at the par-4 15th, falling to even par on his round with a bogey at the par-4 fourth.
A brilliant approach into six and a 12-foot birdie putt at eight lifted Jones inside the top five but a bogey at the last will see the Sydneysider begin the third round in a tie for seventh, four shots behind Matsuyama.
Three Aussies are in the hunt for potentially life-changing finishes as the second stage of Korn Ferry Tour Qualifying School enters its final round early Saturday morning.
Currently 15th on the European Tour’s Race to Dubai rankings, Jason Scrivener is tied for seventh in Florida where 20 players will advance to Q School Finals, Mathew Goggin well back in a share of 52nd.
Sydney’s Justin Warren will start the final round in a tie for fifth chasing one of 19 spots on offer at California, Travis Smyth just one shot outside the cut-off in a share of 23rd with one round to play.
Steve Allan, Ryan Ruffels and James Nitties are all well down the leaderboard at the qualifying site in Albuquerque.