CLIFTON, NJ ( Associated Press) — There’s only one thing missing from Minji Lee’s resume this year and that’s the best scorer on the LPGA Tour who took a big step into the second round of the Cognizant Founders Cup.
Lee flirted with the best round of the season, before hitting a 9-under 63 and a three-shot lead on Friday at the half-point of the event to honor the 13 founding members of the women’s tour. The Australian had a 14-under 130 overall at Upper Montclair Country Club.
“Kicking it close really helps you, as I said before, really just frees you up,” said Lee, who has scored two top-five finishes in six events. “Even with the short put, it’s like a little more confidence boost.”
First round leaders Madeleine Sagstrom, Lexi Thompson and Ellie Ewing shared the second after a round played under cloudy skies with sporadic light rain less than 10 miles from New York City. Sagstrom had 70 runs, while Thompson and Ewing had 11 under .
Lee found 10 under with three holes to play, but finished 16th and failed to tie the Tour’s bottom round of 62 by Yuka Sasso of Japan at the Honda event in Thailand.
Lee, who entered the week with an average of 69.167, placed second at the HSBC Women’s World Championship in March and third at the Los Angeles Open last month.
“Maybe it will be the first and it will start the rest of the year,” she said.
Sagstrom, who scored 63 on Thursday, made a slow start and tried to go down again.
“A lot of things can happen,” Sagstrom said. “A lot of things can happen with a golf course, the way they’ve set it up and all that. So just giving myself a chance is all I can about myself, and my best was 2 under today, so I was really pleased.
Thompson, 27, has won 11 LPGA titles, including a Major, but she hasn’t won on tour since the ShopRite Classic in New Jersey three years ago.
She was not happy when asked about the drought.
“The talent here is really amazing. I mean, it’s hard to win,” she said. “I can only control my emotions and how hard I work, and I know how much work I put into it, so if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. It’s not the end of my life.” “
Ewing, who has missed cuts in three of the seven events, said she starts the season on a slow note. He had bogeys and seven birdies, with four coming on his first five holes.
“It’s exciting to see that my game is trending, and overall I’m just looking forward to the weekend and hopefully I’ll continue to deliver the same results,” said Ewing, who won the tour twice.
The 31-year-old Finn, playing her first season on the LPGA Tour, was Sanna Noutinen’s 68 and was second only to fifth on 135.
Carlotta Siganda, Paula Reto and Megan Khang, who were one shot behind Sagstrom after the opening round, were tied on 136.
Nasa Hatoka, who had a 65 in the first round, had 73 and was in a large group of 6-unders, one shot ahead of two-time defending champion and No. 1 South Korea’s Jin Young Ko, who won a And after 70 of the second round in the big group at 5-under.
Anna Davis, 16, who recently won the Augusta National Women’s Amateur, made her second straight cut, playing at a sponsor’s exemption. She was at 140 after two consecutive 70s.
Eighty players in a field of 144 made the cut at 1-under. Among the missing were New Jersey native Marina Alex, who won in Palos Verdes last month, Solheim Cup captain Stacey Lewis and Ireland’s Leona Maguire, who won the LPGA Drive On Championship this year.
More Associated Press Golf: https://apnews.com/hub/golf and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports