FLORIDA (AFP) — Bianca Pagdanganan had a field shooting down birdies — scoring eight of them in total — on Friday as the CME Group Tour Championship enters moving day at the rain-softened Tiburon Golf Club course in Naples, Florida.
The 26-year-old Pagdanganan, eyeing to strike rich in the most lucrative event in the LPGA Tour, birdied in clusters for a six-under-par 66 to go five-under 139 nine shots off the leaders.
Now tied at 33rd, Pagdanganan hit 15 of 18 greens in regulation and found the fairway 12 of the 14 times at the mound.
But the most telling was her putting, needing just 27 compared to 35 in the opening round when she fired a 76.
Alison Lee of the United States fired a blistering eight-under-par 64 to vault into a share of the lead.
World No. 27 Lee followed up her first-round 66 by rattling in nine birdies and just one bogey to move to 14 under after 36 holes.
That left her tied in the lead alongside overnight co-leader Nasa Hataoka, who produced a solid five-under-par 67 in the second round on Friday following her dazzling nine-under-par first round.
Lee got off to a fast start, with three birdies on her opening four holes, and while she bogeyed the fifth, she regained that stroke with two more birdies on the sixth and seventh holes.
A run of six pars followed before she then drained four more birdies in the final five holes to move to the top of the leaderboard.
“When golf is going your way and you’re making putts, making birdies, it’s so much fun,” Lee said.
“So trying not to get too ahead of myself. Trying not to stare too much at the leaderboard too long and think about Sunday and just think about what’s happening right now and what’s happening in front of me.”
Hataoka, meanwhile, was unable to reproduce her spectacular first round 63, and needed a back nine birdie spree to retain her share of the lead.
The world number 18 made five birdies on the back nine to stay in touch, including back-to-back birdies on the 17th and 18th holes.
Lee and Hataoka are one clear of a group of three players tied for third place on 13 under — first round co-leader Yin Ruoning of China, Australia’s Minjee Lee and South Korea’s Amy Yang, who conjured a bogey-free nine-under-par 63 to move into contention.