MIDLAND, Michigan (AP) – Thai sisters Ariya and Moriya Jutanugarn shot an 11-under 59 in best ball game on Thursday to take the lead with two strokes at the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational.
The Jutanugarns had an overall rating of 14 under 126 at the rainy Midland Country Club after opening on Wednesday with a 67 in the alternate shot game. You play an alternate stroke on Friday and close with the best ball on Saturday.
“I think it’s easier to play with my sister because we can support each other,” said Moriya. “For example, if I had problems or hit a bad shot, she would cover it, or if she didn’t make a good shot, I just try to cover it. It seems like this is how you should play the best ball in format.”
Two-time major champion Ariya got things going by birdieting the first two holes and four of the first five. Moriya added birdies on # 6, 7 and 12, Ariya birdieed # 14, both have birdies # 15 and 17 and Moriya birdies 18.
“She’s really solid, really consistent,” said Ariya. “Every time she hits the ball, I feel like I’m not worried so I know where the ball is going. Even if it misses, it’ll be fine to just go ahead, grab the pen and hit hard so you don’t get scared. “
The Thai teammate Pajaree Anannarukarn and the Indian Aditi Ashok finished second after a 63. Anannarukarn reached 12th place with par-4.
“It got really soft, so whatever irons or wedges I had, I was just trying to go pretty straight on the pin,” said Ashok. “I think that helped get some birdies towards the end after the rain.”
Mi Jung Hur and Jeongeun Lee6 shot a 62 to join Wichanee Meechai and Pavarisa Yoktuan (63) at 11 under.
“She just plays everything perfectly. I love her swing,” said Hur. “The first time I met her it was three years ago and her swing was so perfect and beautiful. I immediately told her that even we don’t know each other: ‘Hey, 6, your turns are perfect.’ And she was embarrassed. “
Defending champions Cydney Clanton and Jasmine Suwannapura had their second 65 in a row joining Carlota Ciganda and Mel Reid, 64, at 10 under.
“I’m not going to lie, it was a little bit more exhausting,” said Clanton. “I think we had to be really patient, which we did. We did a few birdies up front, but they weren’t really easy birdies.”
Suwannapura and Clanton won the 2019 opening event by six strokes. The tournament was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Danielle Kang and Lydia Ko led the group with 9 under after 63.
Lexi Thompson and Nasa Hataoka had a 63 to fit 8. Hataoka won the LPGA Classic marathon in Ohio last week.
Inbee Park and So Yeon Ryu were also 8 under after 65.
Nelly and Jessica Korda, who were tied for the lead in the first round after a 65, were down eight after a 69 with 6. Nelly Korda is making her first start since winning the Meijer LPGA Classic and the KPMG Women’s PGA in consecutive weeks as the world’s number 1. The sisters will represent the United States at the Olympics, joining Kang and Thompson in Tokyo.
The Evian Championship, the fourth major of the year, will take place in France next week.