Golf: Dream fading for Ko

Lydia Ko, of New Zealand, hits on the sixth tee during the second round of the LPGA Kraft Nabisco Championship golf tournament in Rancho Mirage, Calif. Photo / AP
Lydia Ko, of New Zealand, hits on the sixth tee during the second round of the LPGA Kraft Nabisco Championship golf tournament in Rancho Mirage, Calif. Photo / AP

World No1 amateur Lydia Ko has slipped down the field in the second round of her third major, the Kraft Nabisco Championship on the LPGA Tour in California, after firing a two over par 74.

The 15-year-old from the Gulf Harbour Country Club, who shot an even par 72 alongside Michelle Wie at the Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage in round one - to be in a share of 25th place - dropped back to be in a tie for 42nd.

Ko will begin the third round nine shots back from South Korean leader Inbee Park who carded a five under par 67 to be seven under par. She opened up a one-shot lead on American Lizette Salas in the testing conditions.

Ko, the New Zealand Women's Open champion, never really got going as she watched her playing partner and idol Wie shoot a two under par 70 to climb to a share of 12th. Ko played the front nine in even par after a bogey on the sixth and a birdie on the seventh. She made the cut comfortably, continuing her record of never missing a cut in the 15 professional events she has played since 2010.

The New Zealand representative has climbed to world No25 on the official world rankings even though she remains an amateur.

She has won three titles, finished runner-up twice and third once in world-class fields.

This week in California her dream of become the youngest major winner in history is fading. She still has plenty to play for and can finish strongly - and she'll be looking to maintain her perfect record of finishing as the low amateur in every major championship she has contested.

Meanwhile, another New Zealand golfer with a fine amateur record, Danny Lee, has reverted to his amateur putting style - propelling him into the outright lead of the inaugural Brazil Classic on the web.com tour. The former US Amateur champion carded a second consecutive six under par 65 at the Sao Paulo Golf Club overnight to take sole possession of the lead in Brazil before play was suspended.

Lee was two shots ahead of Swedish golfer Richard Johnson, who was four under for the day and 10 under for the tournament after playing 11 holes in his second round.

Lee believed his turnaround in form was due to returning to a simple tip he used when he was an amateur.

"I've started using the line on my ball again. It's really helped me with my alignment," the 22-year-old told the web.com tour website. "I was using it as an amateur and I'm not sure why I stopped. I used to just put the ball down and try to make a perfect stroke. Now, I don't worry about the line. All I've got to do is think about the distance."

It has worked so far with Lee making eight birdies and two bogeys in his second round to be in a great position to win his first title since claiming the WNB Classic in Texas in 2011.

Lee has made a solid start to the 2013 season. He has made three out of four cuts and his best result came when he finished tied sixth at the Chile Classic in March. He also finished in a share of 13th place at the season opening Sony Open in Hawaii on the PGA Tour.

The former European Tour winner is back on the web.com tour after failing to keep his card on the PGA Tour in 2012. He missed out in qualifying school by only one shot.

Lee, currently 26th on the web.com tour money list, needs to finish inside the top 25 to return to the PGA Tour in 2014.

Fellow Kiwi Tim Wilkinson is also right in the hunt in Brazil. The Manawatu left-hander, who opened with a four under par 67, is 16th on the money list and was three under through 10 holes to be on seven under par - in a share of third place, five shots back from Lee.

- APNZ

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