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May 17, 2024 6:42 pm

Atthaya Thitikul surges in front at Mizuho Americas Open

atthaya thitikul

Atthaya Thitikul of Thailand birdied five of her last seven holes to charge into the second-round lead at the Mizuho Americas Open on Friday in Jersey City, N.J.

Thitikul matched the low round of the day with a 7-under 65 at Liberty National Golf Club to get to 9-under 135 for the tournament. That gave her a two-shot edge on So Mi Lee of South Korea (second-round 71) entering the weekend.

Nelly Korda posted a 4-under 68 to move into a tie for third at 6 under with Ariya Jutanugarn (68) of Thailand, Gabriela Ruffels (70) of Australia and Mao Saigo (70) of Japan.

One of the top young stars in the women’s game, the 21-year-old Thitikul birdied Nos. 1 and 3 and stayed bogey-free before her big run got started at the par-4 12th and the par-5 13th.

She then rolled in three in a row at Nos. 15-17, all par-4s, to zip to the top of the leaderboard.

“I think 15 is tough pin, but I just trying to go for the pin, because like not much wind or whatever like that,” Thitikul said. “But just like I think for all of them I just make the putt, except 16 I hit it close. Yeah, ball-striking pretty good on the back nine but not the front nine today.”

Thitikul won twice on the LPGA Tour in 2022 but has not broken through stateside since. She began this season dealing with a thumb injury and made just her third start of the season this week.

“Like last year, as everyone know, I have been like talking with struggling with like, you know, mental-wise, emotional-wise on the course,” Thitikul said.

“… But maybe like overall after that when I can (come to the U.S.), play in (the Chevron Championship), be able to play golf again, it’s just like — it’s just like click and change my mind. Just be able to play golf it’s good enough for me. It’s just go enjoy. Just do the best that you can do out there.”

Lee was the surprise 18-hole leader after getting into the field at the last minute as the second alternate. She had three bogeys to go with four birdies on Friday, but she was just glad to have time for her normal pre-round preparation, unlike Thursday.

“Today I could do all routines that I always did, so it was just — everything was kind of appreciated,” Lee said. “Yeah, so mindset was like I’m so (appreciative) of everything.”

Korda is lurking again after piling up five birdies and one bogey Friday. She recently had a five-start winning streak come to an end when Rose Zhang won last week’s Cognizant Founders Cup.

Korda played her round with Thitikul and praised the tournament leader for her “phenomenal” golf.

“I’m happy to be in it,” Korda said. “Three back at the halfway point, but hopefully I can give it my best.”

Lexi Thompson (145), Allisen Corpuz (149), Danielle Kang (149) and New Zealand’s Lydia Ko (149) were among those who missed the cut.

–Field Level Media

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