SYLVANIA, Ohio — Lucy Li performed with a lead for the primary time on the LPGA Tour and the 19-year-old was as much as the duty Saturday, recovering from a sluggish begin for a 4-under 67 and a one-shot lead within the Dana Open.
Li was 2 over via seven holes and rapidly fading from the image at Highland Meadows when she responded with 5 birdies over the following 10 holes to regain the lead and arrange a last spherical crammed with potentialities.
Lexi Thompson ran off three straight birdies late within the spherical for a 65, whereas Caroline Masson of Germany additionally had a 65. They have been one shot behind.
Six different gamers have been three pictures again, together with Lydia Ko, a two-time match winner who had the low spherical of the day at 64.
“I used to be in all probability a bit nervous. It wasn’t something loopy, however have not felt nervous in a very long time,” Li stated. “Really making these bogeys might need helped a bit, simply getting that out of the best way and realizing that I may simply freewheel it on the market a bit.”
Li was at 14-under 199, and the ultimate group presents a pair of prodigies.
Thompson was 12 when she first certified for the U.S. Ladies’s Open at Pine Needles. Seven years later, Li broke her report when she certified for the 2014 Ladies’s Open at Pinehurst No. 2.
“It’s going to be nice,” Thompson stated. “I performed along with her a bit bit — not a lot out right here. However I feel all people is aware of how wonderful of a participant she is. Simply speaks wonders to the quantity of labor that she’s put into her sport, simply the quantity of expertise she has.”
Li remembers enjoying a apply spherical with Thompson within the ’14 Ladies’s Open.
“She outdrove me by like 60 yards. She in all probability nonetheless outdrives me by 20 yards,” Li stated. “I have not spent that a lot time on the LPGA, so I have not actually gotten to know her that properly. She’s lots — fairly a bit older than me.”
Thompson is 27.
This week already has felt like a bonus for the California teen. Li secured her LPGA Tour card for subsequent 12 months with two wins and a runner-up end on the Epson Tour, which presents LPGA playing cards to its main 10 gamers.
Li obtained a sponsor’s invitation in Canada final week and tied for ninth within the CP Ladies’s Open, which bought her into the sphere in Ohio. Now she has an opportunity to win and be a part of the LPGA Tour for its last two months of the season.
However it would require navigating via a site visitors jam of key gamers, a listing that features 4 main champions. Additionally within the combine is Nasa Hataoka, the defending champion, who had a 67 and was a part of the large group at 11-under 202.
Equally daunting is Ko, who received at Highland Meadows in 2014 and 2016 and had a fantastic probability in 2020 till a bogey on the par-5 closing gap.
Ko began on the again 9 and after a bogey on the eleventh, she holed out for eagle on No. 12 and ran off a collection of birdies. She had an opportunity to go even decrease on her last gap, the reachable par-4 ninth. However her chip from proper of the inexperienced did not stand up the hill, she chipped robust and missed the par putt.
“They moved the tee ahead a bit on 12 and I used to be simply, ‘Hit driver off the tee.’ I solely a niche wedge,” she stated. “It isn’t the best end. … I did what I wanted to do.”
For Thompson, the No. 7 participant within the girls’s world rating, it is one other probability to finish greater than three years with out successful.
“I am going into each match eager to win. Yeah, it has not labored out the best way I would like it to in a couple of occasions, however that is golf,” Thompson stated. “I feel you by no means lose; you are all the time studying. There’s all the time one thing to construct on and study from these days.
“It is golf. I imply, it is a loopy sport. It may be with you in the future and never the following.”