Moriya Jutanugarn shot a second-round 5-under 66 at Wilshire Country Club and will take a one-shot lead into the weekend at the inaugural HUGEL-JTBC LA Open.
Seeking her first LPGA win, Jutanugarn signed for a card comprised of 13 pars and five birdies, including a hat trick of gains on Nos. 2, 3, and 4 (her 11th-13th), en route to a two-day total of 8-under par 134.
“You know, it’s a lot of tricky holes, like a lot of tricky greens. Some of the greens like really small and some of the greens is like really big,” said Jutanugarn.
“So I just try to be patient. Yeah, stay away from bunker and try and keep it in the fairway and green.”
One back of the Thai was Marina Alex who relied on a hot putter on Friday to to post a 3-under 68 and reach solo-second at 7-under 135. The American is also in search of her maiden LPGA win and will be paired with Jutanugarn on Saturday in Los Angeles.
“I feel like I’m rolling it well, which is good on these greens out here. I feel like if you get a good read and they’re rolling really true, so if you get it started on line, you have a good chance of making it,” said Alex.
“But yeah, just kind of building a couple things I’m going to work out on the range and hopefully get a little bit tighter ball-striking for the weekend, and we’ll see what happens.”
Chasing the top duo is a threesome of Korean major champions, including So Yeon Ryu, who shot a 65 to move into solo-third at 6 under, one clear of Eun-Hee Ji (69) and Inbee Park (71).
A fourth Korean was one further back at 4 under par, as Jin Young Ko reeled off four birdies in her first five holes en route to a 67.
American star Lexi Thompson offset two bogeys with two birdies to post a even-par 71 and maintain her position at 3-under par, alongside Azahara Munoz (70), Morgan Pressel (68), and Caroline Inglis (71).
Sung Hyun Park, the 2017 U.S. Women’s Open winner, finished her final two holes bogey-double bogey to post a 73 and miss the cut by a stroke. Another young star who also surprisingly struggled on Friday was last week’s winner, Brooke Henderson. The 20-year old Canadian posted an 8-over par 79 and missed the cut at 7-over par.
Other notables who were sent home early included Anna Nordqvist, Stacy Lewis and Juli Inkster.
1 Moriya Jutanugarn -8
2 Marina Alex -7
3 So Yeon Ryu -6
4 Eun-Hee Ji -5
4 Inbee Park -5
6 Jin Young Ko -4
7 Caroline Inglis -3
7 Morgan Pressel -3
7 Azahara Munoz -3
7 Lexi Thompson -3
“Well, I mean, L.A. is so much fun. You know, be in L.A. before Phoenix and after ANA, so just spend time with friends and family here. It’s just so much fun. I went to like zip line; I went to have good food. It’s just a lot of things to do in L.A.”
– Moriya Jutanugarn
Credit: LPGA Tour Media, Getty Images (Photo: From left to right, Marina Alex and Moriya Jutanugarn during round two)