Moriya takes slender Evian lead

2017-09-16 20:32
Moriya Jutanugarn (Getty)

Evian - Moriya Jutanugarn on Saturday grabbed a one-shot lead heading into the final round of the Evian Championship, as she looks to emulate her sister Ariya in becoming a Thai major winner.

After a second-round 68 at the weather-shortened Evian, she is in pole position to become her country's second major winner.

Ariya, 21, won the women's British Open last year.

The 23-year-old Moriya followed her opening 65 with a five-birdie round to stand on nine under par overall.

With stormy weather having washed out Thursday's play, the tournament has been reduced to 54 holes and she will go into the final round one stroke clear of Japan's Ayako Uehara.

Uehara, a three-time winner in Japan, fired a 66 for eight-under with Australian Katherine Kirk, runner-up in the 2010 Women's British Open, in third on seven-under after a 69.

Moriya was the 2013 Rookie of the Year, but has never won on the LPGA Tour.

This season, she has has had a string of decent finishes, including eight top-10s, and was in the final pairing at last month's British Open at Kingsbarns in Scotland.

On that occasion, she slipped back to finish tied 16th.

This time, she is hoping she can hold onto the lead and finally claim her first professional title.

"When Ariya won the British Open at Woburn last year, I finished not long before her and dashed out to watch her play the last few holes," she recalled. "It was very stressful and I was nervous and excited.

"I was very happy for her. I don't think it is quite so stressful when you are the one playing.

"It was good for me playing in the last group in a major at Kingsbarns. Everything is a learning experience.

"My aim is to win my first tournament, but I don't want to put pressure on myself. I'm in a good position and I am sure it will happen sometime. I just keep trying."

The only sisters to have won on the LPGA Tour are Annika and Charlotta Sorenstam. Annika won 72 times, and Charlotta won once.

Uehara, ranked 163 in the world, had seven birdies to move into contention. "I played great today and hopefully I can keep it going," said the 33 year-old.

At 35, Kirk's first win in seven years in Wisconsin in July has rekindled her appetite for the game. A chip-in birdie at 16 was the highlight of her round.

"The win this season was a huge confidence boost," admitted the veteran. "I had been struggling for a couple of years and was wondering whether I should go on much longer.

"But now I think I'll play a few more years. Trying to get into the Olympics is even a thought."

On six-under, just three off the lead, are a formidable threesome. Former world number one Lydia Ko won the title in 2015, Kim In-Kyung is the reigning British Open champion and Park Sung-Hyun, who followed her first-round 63 with a 73, is the current US Open champion.

Chun In-gee, the defending champion, repeated her opening 70 to just about stay in touch at seven behind the leader, while world number one Ryu So-yeon made the cut with a shot to spare on two over par after a 69.

Leading second-round scores Saturday at the Evian Championship USLPGA/LET golf tournament (par 71; tournament reduced to 54 holes):

133 - Moriya Jutanugarn (THA) 65-68

134 - Ayako Uehara (JPN) 68-66

135 - Katherine Kirk (AUS) 66-69

136 - Park Sung-Hyun (KOR), Lydia Ko (NZL) 68-68, Kim In-Kyung (KOR) 67-69

137 - Jennifer Song (USA) 72-65, Feng Shanshan (CHN) 69-68, Angela Stanford (USA) 69-68, Georgia Hall (ENG) 68-69

138 - Hur Mi-Jung (KOR) 68-70, Anna Nordqvist (SWE) 66-72, Kim Sei-Young (KOR) 70-68, Brittany Altonare (USA) 70-68

139 - Su Oh (AUS) 71-68, Sandra Gal (GER) 70-69, Nicole Broch Larsen (DEN) 69-70, Marina Alex (USA) 67-72, Minjee Lee (AUS) 69-70, Ally McDonald (USA) 71-68, Bronte Law (ENG) 70-69

140 - Chun In-Gee (KOR) 70-70, Juli Inkster (USA) 69-71, Joanna Klatten (FRA) 69-71, Morgan Pressel (USA) 71-69, Jenny Shin (KOR) 70-70

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