Meadow & Maguire off the pace as Jin Young Ko takes halfway lead

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Meadow & Maguire off the pace as Jin Young Ko takes halfway lead

Leona Maguire (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

Stephanie Meadow and Leona Maguire will likely be playing for places as the cream rose to the top on day two of the LPGA Tour’s CME Group Tour Championship. Top-ranked Jin Young Ko fired a five-under par round of 67 to put herself in position to win the season money title in only four events.

In tough, blustery conditions at Tiburon Golf Club, the South Korean sits at nine-under par and will take a one-stroke lead over defending champion Sei Young Kim and 2018 winner Lexi Thompson in the season-ending event: “Before when I play in KLPGA it was really cold, so I hate cold weather to play golf, but right now I love it,” said Ko, who spent most of the season in her native land.

Meadow had started the tournament in great style with a two-under par 70 but struggled in the wind on Friday, posting two bogeys and a double in a four-over par round of 76. Having hit 13 greens in regulation, the Jordanstown professional will mark her differing fortunes down to 33 putts having fallen to two-over par for the tournament and just inside the top-50.

Maguire sits one shot better off than her Irish Olympic teammate having traded two birdies and two bogeys in an even par round of 72. The Cavan professional hit eight of 18 greens in regulation and needed just 25 putts to share 42nd place at one-over par. The $1.1 million winner’s prize, down from $1.5 million last year, is the richest in women’s golf. Halfway leader Ko is 13th on the money list with $567,925. Inbee Park is the leader with $1,365,138, and Kim second with $1,207,438. Ko also is trying to hold off No. 2 Kim in the world ranking.

“If play good I can do world ranking No. 1 still,” Ko said. “But if not and then she plays good, she can do. Doesn’t matter really. I want bogey-free round next two days,” Ko said. “I’m looking forward to the weekend.”

Meanwhile Thompson, the first-round leader after a 65, had two late birdies in a 71: “It was different conditions today of course with the cooler weather in the morning,” Thompson said. “I would say overall it was a lot breezier throughout the day. … Wasn’t as good as yesterday of course, but overall happy and going to take the positives into the next two days.”

Nelly Korda (66) was three strokes back at 6 under with Cydney Clanton (68), Austin Ernst (69), Georgia Hall (69), Megan Khang (71) and Caroline Masson (71). Lydia Ko was 5 under, following a 74 with a bogey-free 65.

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